In our Centered on Your Success blog series, get to know our experts and how they measure success for clients. In this installment, meet Shannon Stickney.
What’s your story?
When I graduated from college, I knew I wanted to be in a field where I had the ability to influence the behaviors of others. I understood that people were a critical component of an organization’s success. And I knew I had to be part of creating an experience that enables people and the companies they work for to thrive.
For the next 20 years, I focused on developing and executing Talent and People strategies for large international and domestic organizations as a Human Resources Leader. My favorite part of this role was helping business leaders to embrace a people-centered approach to their businesses and strategies.
As I worked with leaders through mergers, acquisitions, reorganizations, international expansions and downsizings, I discovered my passion for helping leaders lead effectively through change and transition. I observed what leaders could accomplish when they became devoted to the human side of change and embraced their authentic leadership styles. This passion is what ultimately led me to consulting. I am currently the People and Change Local Service Offering Lead in Columbus, and in this role, I have the opportunity to bring this perspective to our clients every day.
How are you working to guide your clients to success right now?
The landscape of work significantly changed over the last few years, and many leaders face a new reality. The way they implemented and led changes in the past no longer works in today’s environment. In our business, success for our clients means they get the full benefit of the solution they are implementing, which means adoption is a crucial piece of that puzzle.
In my role, I have the opportunity to offer insights, perspectives and best practices about how to effectively motivate and influence people to adopt the implemented changes. When guiding clients to success, we partner with them to develop an experience-based, people-centric approach to adoption. When done well, this approach allows leaders to achieve their desired outcomes while having the added benefit of increasing their associate engagement.
What does the success of your clients mean to you?
To me, client success is when our clients achieve more than they thought possible. At the start of any engagement, we always discuss and align on what success looks like for them. This conversation typically starts in a metrics-driven manner until we shift perspective and guide them through the experience they want their employees to have with the change. Many companies don’t realize the employee experience influences a significant part of their brand, and that it’s possible to have both a positive change result and a positive employee experience. When we can help clients make that happen, to me, that is success.
What, in your opinion, do companies need the most help with right now?
The talent market is unlike anything we have seen. Most companies offer remote work, which gives employees options they never had before from an employment perspective. I think there is a lot of uncertainty and frustration with the volatility of the employment market, which makes retention a crucial strategy for success. Companies know how critical the employee experience is to retaining talent but are struggling with how to continue to build great cultures and employee experiences in a hybrid environment.
What do you think they should be thinking about next?
In the early- to mid-2000s, there was a big push into customer analytics. Companies invested in tools and strategies to fully understand their consumer segments and develop products and services tailored to their needs. I think leaders should take these same principles and apply them to their employee population.
While employee engagement is important, what I’m talking about goes beyond that and into understanding what kind of tools or technologies they need to facilitate outcomes, what kind of processes or operating models can help employees do their work, and what kind of support they need to continue expanding their skills. When changes take place, what do they need to build support and resiliency?
What are you looking forward to in your industry?
As the work landscape continues to change and evolve, this brings an opportunity to look at whether the tried-and-true ways of operating as a business still work. This type of critical thinking brings innovation and progression, and I’m excited about what lies in store from that perspective.
What piece of career advice keeps you passionate and purposeful?
I once had a mentor tell me not to focus on a single career path because there are hidden paths available only to those who are willing to learn. It was his way of telling an ambitious, goal-oriented twenty-something to put as much effort into broadening her skills as she did into mastering her craft. He encouraged me to immerse myself in learning new disciplines, functions and bodies of knowledge which did, in fact, reveal hidden paths and discoveries.
To this day, I tell people who are looking for career development advice to pick a field, discipline or area in which they know nothing about and focus on building skills in that area. Most often, people discover a new niche, a way to integrate those skills into their crafts, or a hidden path they never knew was there.
What do you do when you’re not guiding clients?
When I am not guiding clients, you can find me planning our next adventure. Eight years ago, we made a family goal to plan an adventure in every U.S. State before the kids graduated from high school. We enjoy skiing, hiking, biking and kayaking, and we are about to add SCUBA diving to our list of things to do in the 17 states we have left to explore.
What’s your favorite thing to do in Columbus?
Columbus has a lot of great things to choose from, but one of my favorite things to do is go downtown for a Broadway show with my daughter at the historic Ohio Theatre. Every time I walk into the theater, it’s like stepping back in time.