Courtney Berg speaks with us about the three HR webinars she’s presenting for CEDIA.
Courtney Berg has managed retail stores, handled insurance underwriting, studied to get pre-med requirements, and eventually landed at an ambulance company. Along the way, she picked up a unique set of human-resources skills that led her to open her own firm that specializes in helping small businesses: CourtSide Consulting
She’s also taught a number of courses at CEDIA Expos, and will soon lend her knowledge to a webinar series that starts April 5. The three webinars cover hiring, team-building, and the thorny questions that surround discipline and termination.
When it comes to her day-to-day client interactions, Berg says she’s “more of a strategist than anything. I'm a practical strategist. What I do is I figure out what's the right strategy for that organization, and I do that by asking questions, by listening, by really honing in on a company’s culture and needs.”
But while her one-on-one advice is tailored with precision, she’s uncovered some general principles that can help firms both large and small in the CEDIA universe. The Employee Life Cycle
The first webinar in Berg’s HR series is Employees 101 — The Employee Life Cycle
(presented online on April 5, 2018).
The “life cycle” covers the following for those making hiring decisions:
- What to do before you hire someone
- How to orient them to your company
- How to effectively set expectations and manage their behavior
- How to discipline and terminate employees safely
Berg explains that this webinar’s an abbreviated version of the three-hour workshop she’s taught at previous CEDIA Expos. Berg covers “preparing attendees to hire people, how they go through the hiring process, how they make a hiring decision, even the interview questions, I give them examples on that. All of those things are going to be in the Employee Life Cycle. Then once they get on board, how do you manage that day-to-day employee? How do you manage that activity? How do you keep them engaged? How do you manage them through their day-to-day activities?” Teamwork and Trust
Berg’s next presentation, The 5 Keys to Teamwork and Trust
(debuting May 3, 2018), covers her philosophy regarding giving employees enough autonomy to become real stakeholders in a firm’s success. The example she uses is that of a farm: “I'm not going to give you the keys to the farm here, but what I am going to do is I'm going to say that barn right there, that out building over there, that's yours. You get to decorate that the way you want to. You get to lock it up at night the way you want it to. You and I are going to watch you once a week, and we're going to talk about why you're doing those things. If I need you to correct something, I'm going to tell you, but I'm not going to do a daily inspection of your outbuilding. I want you to own it.
“I gave you some guidelines on where you can make decisions. I gave you some guidelines on what those decisions can be, and the parameters on the boundaries of even those decisions. Maybe they're budgetary, maybe something else.
“I gave that to you, but then I'm going to say, ‘Okay, now I'm going to give you another outbuilding. Here you go, now you have two. Now what are you going to do? Can you duplicate your effort from that first building to the second one? Can you transfer those skills?’ What I've done is started to teach you and lead you down that path, so that you build your confidence. I'm not giving you the entire farm, because you're going to blow up if I do that. I'm not giving you the entire farm, because I'm going to blow up if I do that.”
“If you're not ready to even hire the employee, and you bring somebody on, chances are that person won't be successful because you're not exactly sure what you want them to do anyway.”
Discipline — and Termination
The final presentation in the series is the toughest for most managers: Discipline to Termination — 5 Steps to Doing It Right
(June 7, 2018). “It's the one that I think creates the most risk for them,” says Berg. It's not easy to sit down with somebody and say, ‘Hey, you're not meeting expectations.’ It's not easy to say, ‘I've got to fire you.’ You know that your conversation with that individual is not just impacting that individual, it's impacting their family.
“How do you have those conversations? What I do is I set up a system, and I talk about a system where you don't start at the point where you're disciplining. You start at the point when you notice there's a problem.”
And one way to avoid that discussion? Ensure you’ve got your priorities straight at the outset of that employee’s “life cycle.” “If you're not ready to even hire the employee, and you bring somebody on, chances are that person won't be successful because you're not exactly sure what you want them to do anyway.”
And through all of these webinars and courses that Berg presents, she’s well aware that the material can be dry — so expect a good dose of humor that’s drawn from real-world examples.
“You've got to find the humor in HR, or you're not going to keep anybody interested,” says Berg. “A lot of times, it's stories. It's the, ‘Wow, somebody really did THAT?’ kind of stories, that draw the audience in; stories like, ‘I can't believe somebody thought that was okay. How can a manager think tying up a female employee and squirting her with water is okay?’ ‘I don't know, but that's what they did.’”