Diversity in Leadership with Tiana Schisler

In this episode of The B2B Leadership podcast, best-selling author and leadership coach Nils Vinje speaks with Tiana Schisler, director of HR and talent acquisition at mPulse Mobile.
In this episode...

0:21 - About Tiana - Tiana explains who she is and the type of work she does.
2:04 - Social work - what is social work and how does it apply to a leadership role?
4:41 - Combining social work with organizational development - What are the benefits of a social work background to an HR role?
6:24 - Approaching diversity - Many companies are not well known for their diverse workforce.
9:30 - Evolution of company culture - Is diversity embedded in the culture, or is Tiana leading the charge?
11:42 - Transition from social work to HR - Tiana tells the story of what ultimately got her involved in HR.
16:23 - Working closely with other leaders - Not every leader feels like they have enough tools to succeed.
23:13 - Trying to be someone you're not - This can happen when in a position that doesn't align with you.
28:51 - Agree or disagree with this statement? - Every employee is the CEO of their career.
30:20 - Advice to your younger self - What would Tiana tell her younger self?

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How important is diversity in leadership?

How do you cultivate diversity in your organization?

In this episode, our guest Tiana Schisler will talk about diversity from her leadership perspective.

Continue reading to know more about Tiana's leadership journey.

About Tiana

Tiana Schisler is the director of HR and Talent Acquisition at mPulse Mobile.

Even though she leads HR and Talent Acquisition, she has a master's degree in social work. She started out with communication but went into the direction of social work to combine her communication skills and her love of people. She wanted to focus on the more human element in the business world.

Tiana loves the work that she does and is fortunate to have leaders behind her who support her in her mission to make sure that they have quality experiences for their employees.

It is important to have leaders who allow you to do the best work that you can do to support your people.

Social work

What is social work?

Most people have a negative identification of social workers because what people often hear about the direction of social workers is more in Child Protective Services. Social workers can do so much in a traditional setting.

Tiana's area of focus is more non-traditional and she works with employees and people.

Most social workers have a foundational skill set of clinical work, which is focused on therapy. They have a clinical background in psychology and apply those skill sets to what they're doing. They learn a lot about policy and different techniques in that field.

Tiana learned a lot about brain development too. As she developed her skills, she decided to learn more about people, people functions, programs, program development, people in programs, and organizational development.

The skills she learned and developed during that time have been very helpful to her role today.

Combining social work with organizational development

Tiana's background in social work helped her become very adaptable. She can understand people on a micro-level. She can look at their organization as a whole and understand what their business needs which enabled her to be successful in her role as an HR leader.

In today's world, it is important to think about ethical business and how it should function in society. Diversity also plays a very important role in a business. You have to think in many different ways. Tiana has to think in layers and bring herself from the micro-level to the macro level.

Approaching diversity

Fast-growing technology companies are not well-known for having a diverse workforce.

Tiana said diversity is something that they always need to think about and be proactive about at mPulse Mobile. They had to add diverse perspectives to their conversation on a daily basis.

Diversity starts with their recruitment process. They make sure to attract diverse talent. They're getting themselves ahead of the diversity metric and making sure that they're always putting themselves in front of many different kinds of candidates.

mPulse Mobile does a lot of things to drive diversity into their organization. They educate around diversity in having a more inclusive workplace. They have created content on diversity that goes out to their clients and customers. All of their new hires get to take a diversity course as part of their onboarding process.

They have an open forum where they facilitate diversity discussions on a regular basis to have it be part of their regular conversations.

Evolution of company culture

Is diversity embedded in their culture?

Diversity has been an evolution in their company culture. The diversity initiative started with employees who have been interested in trying new things. It hasn't always been successful but they're willing to try things out and then see how it goes.

They've had a lot of employee champions who have been interested in leading projects. Behind their diversity initiatives is an executive sponsor who has been rallying their group together and supporting them to see things get done.

Transition from social work to HR

Back in college, Tiana was a Resident Adviser which was an HR-focused job. When she went into the social work program in graduate school, she thought of going a more traditional route.

Tiana loved working with the students and developing them. She didn't realize she was developing her skills at the same time.

After she got into the program, she realized that the program has a more nontraditional route, where she could develop and foster the skills that she had as an RA to go into HR. She initially wanted to go into a specific piece of HR, which was employee engagement.

She started out at Warner Brothers where she worked there doing her fieldwork focusing on employee engagement. It was about driving engagement efforts and understanding the deep roots of employee engagement which is about retention efforts.

They engaged their employees in many different ways. They'd engage them not just socially but in a more deep-rooted way with programs like development, learning, and education. They wanted to engage them with a purpose.

It's very important to make sure that individuals see themselves as part of the company and others like themselves stay within the company. These are all part of the engagement to retain the employees in the long run.

This is where Tiana's interest started and developed. She was continuously looking to push the envelope of what she enjoys and what she's good at while leveraging all those unique skill sets and talents, everything from social work to being an RA.

Working closely with other leaders

Not every leader feels like they have enough tools to succeed. If you are a leader or an individual contributor who's not supported by your organization and feel like you are set up to fail, you really have to understand what your boundaries are.

You have to know what are the things that you are willing and not willing to do because that's going to help you figure out and determine what your next step is. If you're willing to do something, then you'll be able to navigate to the next steps.

If you are an individual contributor, have an honest conversation with your manager to set up some expectations and transparency about how you feel. Let your manager know that you're not feeling like you're set up for success.

Practice interacting with others beforehand to be clear about your message because the more clear you can be, the more likely you're going to get the results that you want. A little bit of planning goes a long way. It makes a difficult conversation easier.

If you don't feel comfortable with your manager, engage with your HR person who you feel comfortable talking with. It's okay to ask for help.

They can help you navigate the conversation because there should be a comfort level so you can have that open space and open conversation with your manager to get to the next steps.

A lot of times, managers think that they may be setting up their people for success, but they are not. You have to place yourself in the driver's seat and take control of your career.

You don't want to be in a situation where you are set up for failure because that's not going to be helpful for you at all. You want to be in a place where you can be successful and set up for success.

Don't wait for your organization to make a change. Take immediate action steps instead that you can control which can set you up for success. It's okay to take small steps if you're moving towards a place of comfort level.

Trying to be someone you're not

Sometimes, people get promoted into a position or end up in a position that doesn't really align with them.

What advice would Tiana give to someone in a position where they feel like they're trying to be someone that they're not?

In today's world, things are constantly in a competition that you have to be somebody else to level up to get to the next place. Tiana said you don't have to be. Be true to yourself instead. Be authentic.

One of the most important things to do to keep your authentic self is to spend enough time self-reflecting and understanding what it is that you want. Know when to say No. Not all leaders need to manage people.

If you want to level up your career and you don't necessarily want to manage people because managing people is not an easy job, there are other ways to level up.

You can be a leader and have leadership skills without being a people leader. It's important for individuals to recognize and understand that.

Agree or disagree with this statement?

Every employee is the CEO of his or her career. Do you agree or disagree?

Tiana said all individuals are in charge of their own future. You're in the driver's seat. You get to make the decisions of whether you're going to make that right turn at the light, or you're going to just keep going straight.

You are empowered to make those decisions and decide what you want to do. Only you as the employee know what's best for you because only you know yourself best.

Advice to your younger self

If Tiana could go back to the time when she was still an RA, she would tell herself to continue to be patient. Things will work out the way it's supposed to if you're doing the right thing and making decisions that you want to make.

Being patient is an incredible leadership skill in and of itself.

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