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Mar 5, 2024
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75. Embracing Authenticity

75. Embracing Authenticity
In this episode, Jeff interviews Kelly Ann Doherty the current Executive VP and Chief Administrative Officer at the Mr. Cooper Group, overseeing a very large aspect of the company’s people and operations functions. She has nearly 20 years of experience serving some of the nation’s leading organizations in both Communications and People Ops. Jeff and Kelly Ann delve into corporate communication myths, emphasizing the dual role of both the "little C" in everyday dialogue with employees, and the "big C" of strategic messaging. They highlight the power of authenticity in fostering genuine connections and share innovative approaches like "Cooper Con," a conference with fun segments like "Hot Takes" to engage employees. They discuss how communication can be a strategic and competitive advantage, and how to assess your effectiveness at it, both individually and corporately. Their conversation also explores storytelling's impact on culture and brand equity, using personal experiences to drive employee engagement. Strategies for bridging generational gaps and practical tips for enhancing communication skills round out this dynamic discussion, as Kelly Ann shares a roadmap for personal and professional growth in corporate communication.


Intro: Duration: (02:36)

Opening music jingle & sound effects

Jeff Hunt:

I'm Jeff Hunt, and this is Human Capital. Today on the show, we're going to explore the topic of communication, both from an individual leadership and a corporate perspective. Over my career running different companies, I've learned that one of the most critical leadership competencies is communication.

This might seem obvious, but sometimes we forget the impact that good or bad communication has. For instance, when leaders communicate well in a company it boosts morale, teamwork, and helps to increase job satisfaction. A clear vision and open conversations motivate people, and by being transparent we can sometimes reduce conflict.

But conversely, if communication is poor, it degrades morale, creates silos, and it can increase turnover. Organizationally, good communication strengthens company vibe and helps employees adapt to change. And the contrast is lower engagement, lower brand equity, loss of customer trust, and often financial challenges.

So today, I'm thrilled to explore this complicated topic with a communications expert, Kelly Anne Doherty. Kelly Anne has nearly 20 years of experience serving some of the nation's leading organizations in both communications and people ops. She has served as an expert consultant, executive coach. and has worked in the areas of employee experience and organizational culture for leaders in multiple industries.

Kelly Anne is currently Executive VP and Chief Administrative Officer at the Mr. Cooper Group, overseeing a very large aspect of the company's people and operations functions. It is through her lived experiences that Kelly Anne learned how to craft healthy company culture. And witness the critical role it plays in allowing the unique characteristics and life experiences of team members to shine.

Welcome Kelly Anne.

Kelly Ann Doherty:

Oh, thank you so much, Jeff, for having me. I loved that introduction. I'm so excited for this conversation.

Topic 1. Kelly Anne at Mr. Cooper, their culture and mapping team member experience (02:37)

Jeff Hunt:

Well, me too. And you know, I was actually on LinkedIn the other day and I saw that you recently celebrated five years at Mr. Cooper. And so I want to kind of start there. What, what have you enjoyed most? About that ride. And yeah, let's just kind of start there.

Kelly Ann Doherty:

Well, absolutely. What I was celebrating was actually my five year anniversary of taking over also the HR function. So it was really my first step into people operations in a very specific leadership, um, sort of way. I'd always been passionate about people and culture, but for the first time I was leading a group of HR professionals.

What stands out to me most about that journey over the five years is it's not my own individual journey, but the journey the company's been on, we entered into that period of time with me. I'm in that leadership position, really focused on building culture within the company. And we used Great Place to work at the measurement for that.

And when I started in our first year, we did our first ever survey. We got a 72, not bad. Today we sit at 88. And, and that is in the midst of a pandemic, some challenging issues within the mortgage market, which is the industry that we're in. And, um, despite all of that, our people really trust us. They trust us to do the right thing as an organization.

And in turn, we've gotten so. So much goodness back from them. They have a highly engaged, highly productive, deeply invested team member population. And to me, that is what I am most proud of.

Jeff Hunt:

And that's what people look for when they're looking for a job, because you can copy strategy. You can copy pricing.

You can try to copy marketing plans. You can't copy culture. And so, when I'm looking and I hear from my friends and peers and colleagues that you got to go to work for Mr. Cooper, that's kind of a testament of the culture you've created.

Kelly Ann Doherty:

That's exactly right. The first thing I did when I took over the role was created a team member experience map. So, when brands think about the customer experience, they very often put together a customer experience map. That's a logical thing to do. You want to know exactly what that customer journey is like. We had never done that for our own team members and they are the living embodiment of our brand. They are the people that interact with our customers.

And so we really took a step back and thought about what that looked like end to end. And the thing. That I hadn't really contemplated before taking over the role, but it became so clear to me once we did that exercise was how important it was to have your own team members telling your story. And it's not about the words that you put on the wall.

All those are, those are important. It's about the lived experience. Were our behaviors and our leadership matching the words that we wanted to share. And. Making sure that we were telling that story at the same time. And so that really stood out to me as an opportunity. And I think what ultimately happens when you get that part, right.

Is people coming in the door that are really going to fit your culture. I I've heard from Katie work at HubSpot once and talking about the HubSpot culture, which is really notable, but not everybody's meant for that culture. And they're not shy about talking through that. And that's the same, I think, for every culture that's out there.

Not every culture is going to be the right culture for you as a person. So being able to tell that story and make sure that what you're saying really matches the experience once they walk in the door, I think it's critical to decreasing turnover and creating highly engaged employees from day one.

Jeff Hunt:

I really appreciate your reference to Katie Burke at HubSpot because I interviewed her. So, listeners, if you want to listen to that, go back and look at, listen to the archives and you'll find it. Go look through the archives and you'll find it. And in thinking about your corporate culture that you've created, Mr. Cooper, and this whole employee map, this customer, this employee experience map. Kelly Anne, did this give you an opportunity to also not only map things out, but then identify where you had gaps and what you could do to fill those gaps?

Kelly Ann Doherty:

That's exactly why we did the journey map in the first place, because And listening to other experts, especially around customer experience, you understand that they're looking to identify the peak moments and then other areas where you might have an opportunity to influence it.

And, and some areas are not always going to be the spots that you want to invest in, but. Finding ways to create those peak moments, the ones that will kind of cover across that entire experience with something I was really interested in. And in that exercise, we came away with a list of about 20 things that we thought might enhance.

From a benefits perspective, the team member experience, and I'm talking about everything from more snacks in the break room, this is when we were in the office full time, um, uh, to the day after Thanksgiving off. And so in that list of 20 things, we decided to do a brief survey to our employees, we said, okay, here's 20 things, what you tell us.

What you think is the most important and I, in talking to the executive leadership team and getting them to buy into this said, we're going to do this, we're going to do the number one thing, be prepared because if it's expensive, um, we're on the hook for that. And so we did the survey and it was really surprising what popped to the top, things like no meeting Fridays, people were really excited about, but that the one that won the day.

Was the day after Thanksgiving and this survey happened maybe about, you know, six weeks before the day after Thanksgiving was coming and we made it happen and now it is a company holiday and every year we remind team members that it's a company holiday because they asked for it. They, we asked them for their feedback.

They told us what they wanted. We listened and then we acted on it. And I think that. That piece of making sure that you're telling that story on the back end is really critical and one that not every company gets right. It's like they do all of the things right, but then they forget to share that story.

And it's really important to give credit where credit's due and that's something that we focus on a lot at Mr. Cooper.

Topic 2. Employee experience and trust building among employees (09:01)

Jeff Hunt:

I love that story for so many reasons because on one hand, You were the opposite, the antithesis of hypocrisy and hypocrisy just degrades culture. It causes so many problems in organizations.

And the other thing too is our software, GoalSpan, one of the things it does is surveys. And we always caution our clients. If you're going to do a survey, you must follow through. You have to communicate ahead of time why you're doing the survey. What sort of results in communication can employees expect from the outcomes?

What are the action items you're going to take? If you do a survey and then you don't follow through, it's definitely going to have a counter effect. So that seems remarkable that you followed through and you just built trust with your employees, right?

Kelly Ann Doherty:

Oh, that's, I mean, and that was step one. And I feel like after that step one, it's been easier to build trust because your relationship with your employees, it's like any other relationship that you have, it's based on good communication and trust and.

Every bit of trust building activity, just build on top of each other. It's, um, a buildable exercise. And so I love to tell people, you know, one of my foundational rules for culture building is to ask your team members what they want, listen to what they're telling you, act on their feedback, and then tell them about it.

Make sure that they understood what you chose to do with their feedback and how you've responded to it. And I don't care if it's a small survey or a big one or a focus group, it is so critical that people believe that the time they're taking to give you that feedback was worth it. And I really believe that that's where storytelling can become a really powerful element in helping to build trust within an organization too.

Jeff Hunt:

And there's another great lesson in what you just shared as well, which is actually not But communicating when things don't work. So you might be able to like, you might get this information that a lot of people want a specific thing, but you go back and you say, we can't do that because X, Y, Z.

You'll leave that void there. Then people will make up their own sort of reasons as to why. The other thing I was reflecting on Kelly Anne, when you were sharing about this, these 20 different points in your survey is the beauty of that story is you identify that you're not going to try to do everything.

Because when we try to do everything, everything becomes nothing. You know, in other words, you can have 20 different attributes there. And if they're all important, then none of them are important. You really did figure out what was most important and you let your employees at Mr. Cooper know that this is what we're going to do.

And then you followed through properly on that. So that's a really cool, yeah, really cool.

Kelly Ann Doherty:

Yeah. I think that that's such an important point because in organizations, companies, companies are here to make money, unless you work for a nonprofit. But, but in many cases, a company's. Goal is to make money. And so you're not going to be able to invest in every single thing that you want to invest in.

I think what's important for people who are leading culture is to understand the highest impact, highest impact. What I would tell my team all the time is like, give me the highest impact, lowest cost, like where's the low hanging fruit? What can we affect change with? And then build on trust in that way, because there's another way to think about that when you're in a role like mine, it's not just getting feedback from your people, but convincing leaders that the investment that you want to make is worth it.

And I found that convincing leaders to invest in. Culture or people-oriented benefits is to prove to them over time what those types of investments will do to engagement. And you do that by getting early wins. So, I like to tell people when they're starting, especially on this journey, find the early, quick, easy win.

And let that momentum carry you to the next one. And then the next one after that, that's, that's been my formula for a success at least.

Jeff Hunt:

Yeah. And that makes sense. And it's also. If you get all of these wins, what do they ultimately add up to in a for profit business? It's usually increased revenue and profits.

So then you start speaking the language of the CFO and those that manage that part of the business. And it becomes much more of a compelling ROI, connecting those dots between culture and outcomes and results in the business, right?

Kelly Ann Doherty:

That's right. That's right. And I've gotten asked that question many times because when you think about culture, especially when you hear from some really notable names from a culture perspective, Southwest, Chick fil A, they all come to mind as companies that have really gotten it right for their people over time. But when you're a smaller company or one that hasn't always had a seamless journey like that, it's hard. To understand how you could get to that type of place and being able to speak the love language of your CFO is a critical component of that, finding ways for the dollars and the cents to make sense.

Topic 3. Shattering the myth of corporate communication (14:08)

Jeff Hunt:

Absolutely. And so when you think about this whole topic of communication and corporate culture and sort of what we're talking about, what are some myths in your mind that are there related to corporate culture that need to be challenged?

Kelly Ann Doherty:

Yeah. Oh, I love the next question. I've got several of them. The first is that communications is the communications team's job.

When I talk about communications, there's the little C and the big C. And you talked about that in your introduction. And the little C is the communication that leaders should have with their team members every single day. And how, you know, peers talk to each other as well. That's all communication.

And then the big C is what we're trying to do to help inform team members about what the vision, the mission is, the messages from this, the big company type announcements. And so finding a way to encourage the little C type of communication. Is that something that we've spent a lot of time thinking about it, Mr. Cooper. So, our communications team will do the big stuff, but they also, rather than giving the script to our leaders, give them the tips, give them the tools to really help them facilitate good dialogue. A great example of that would be, we want people to get company announcements. What's going on this week?

How should you be thinking about what's going on in the company? Well, rather than sending out. A company announcement, we give our leaders huddle points and every leader has a huddle and they use the company point, including little tips for how they can make it fun so that every week they're sharing out that company information, but they're doing it in a way that's relevant to their team.

And so I think that that's one myth that I always start with when people are thinking about comms. Because. Communications teams in particular, and I've been a part of one for many, many years, they can become the victim of their own success. If you're really, really, really good at what you do, you get asked for more.

And then it becomes a, like, help me answer this question. And rather than give them the answer, give them the tools to be able to answer that for themselves. And then it becomes more authentic to the leader and more authentic to the team member receiving it. And that's what you really ultimately are trying to get when you're thinking about communications, whether that's corporate or from a leader.

Jeff Hunt:

I love that. And there, and there's so many analogies to exceptional leaders in what you described as well, because if you are the communications team and you're doing really well and everybody has this reliance on you, then you've created a dependency on yourself rather than actually change the culture of your organization by having people become.

Your communications experts within the organization in their own way. That's right. I really appreciate that.

Kelly Ann Doherty:

That's right. Well, and you know, there's always going to be moments in time where that communications team needs to be front and center crisis situation early on in the pandemic. We definitely had tight controls on how we were talking to our team members, but during the day to day, we really need to trust our leaders to have that type of dialogue for themselves.

So, that's one, one myth that I just think, at least it's true in my company, we've had to work on dispelling just a little bit, but I would say that another myth is. That the answer is always more communication, uh, sometimes less is more. There's been tons of studies done on attention span and what it takes for people to really absorb messaging.

And so, one of the things that we focused on at Mr. Cooper is really changing the modality of how we're talking. Because how you talk really matters and people can think like email, like I have something to say. I want to send an email. Well, the team members have received five emails already this week.

They're probably not going to read that sixth one. Let's think differently about what it is that you need to say and how you need to say it. And that's been, I think, really helpful in increasing engagement with our communications because we're trying to make it. More interesting, more relevant to them, and then now more often utilizing channels or storytelling vehicles to get a different type of engagement.

Topic 4. Using authenticity to connect on a human level with the people at the company (18:35)

Jeff Hunt:

I love that. So much of what you're saying also seems to require a level of authenticity. So in other words, if I'm given this script from the communications team and I have to deliver it verbatim. It's lacking authenticity, right? So, if there's a way that I can be authentic and have my own voice, then it becomes easier for me to buy into what I'm communicating and also understand it better rather than just have a script.

Kelly Ann Doherty:

That's so true. I like to believe of my, like of myself as an authentic leader. I really try to lean into bringing my whole self to any engagement I have. And the reason I believe that that's important is because I think authenticity leads to more authenticity. It's, it's really basically creating a license to trust.

Like if somebody can watch me be myself, it makes it easier for them to be themselves. And that's what you really are looking for when you've got a high trust culture. But you know I also think that in today's day and age, employees are looking for authentic leaders. They're looking to connect on a human level with the people that are leading their companies.

And I believe that social media has really influenced how, especially the younger generations at work, think about their followership. They follow personalities on social media. And so you've got to start talking in a different sort of way. And I think a lot of times that is in creating that authenticity.

Because, you know, with influencers, when they lose their trust with their audience, it's almost always because they've done something that's outside of the person that they believe them to be. And executive leaders today are essentially corporate influencers. That's what we're trying to be. We're decision makers, but we're also trying to influence certain outcomes.

And so, uh, one of the things that we've done that's really fun at the company is Really encourage our team members to get to know our executive leaders in a different sort of way. And we created what's called Cooper Con and it's our leadership conference. We do it virtually now three times a year. And Cooper Con is a mix of fun, but also relevant business content, but we do it in a kind of different way.

For example, again, thinking about the way that people receive information today, we started scouring social media for fun storytelling opportunities and hot takes. Popped up hot takes is a competition of hot wing where the interviewer has their guests eat progressively hotter wings while they answer progressively hotter questions.

So naturally we thought this is great for our executive leaders. So, we started doing hot takes as a segment and our CEO always sits down with another leader and they eat hot wings. While they answer harder questions and there's a lot of really important information about their leadership style and those questions, but our people, they also just love watching our leaders sweat and I've tasted one of the hot wings and it was a painful experience.

I actually thought we probably need to have people sign waivers for this. This is not safe, but the point being that it was a completely different way to communicate what would have probably been like a Q&A session, but so much more memorable because we started thinking about the way people are receiving information today and put our leaders in a spot where they could really show their authentic self and it's been a huge success.

We're having a lot of fun coming up with new segment ideas.

Jeff Hunt:

That's really cool. And it's just a, a testament to how people will be more engaged when you're doing things that are interesting and creative and they draw them in rather than these sorts of antiseptic monologues that are delivered to the entire company over some sort of a media.

Kelly Ann Doherty:

That's right. Really, really appreciate that. Staring at a screen can get so boring, right? I mean, especially in this four years post pandemic world that we live in, we are constantly staring at a screen. So we started this last year knowing that we had to shake things up and do different things.

And it's been a lot of fun to watch the engagement coming from that. And there are some serious moments. Obviously we're talking about important business things, but just to have some fun with the way that we share content, I think is something that I know I've tried to employ as a communications leader.

And when I'm talking to other communications leaders, really encourage them to consider, um, when you're struggling to get open rates on your emails and people aren't going to your intranet site, maybe start thinking about other ways to get their attention and making executive leaders eat hot wings is one of those ways. So. That's a hot tip for everybody listening.

Topic 5. Storytelling to improve an organization’s culture and brand equity (23:35)

Jeff Hunt:

Now go do that. Figure out your own way out there and make it happen. Well Kelly Anne, earlier on you were talking about storytelling and I want to drill down on that a little bit and have you share, if you can, the ways that you see storytelling truly changing and improving an organization's culture and maybe some examples if you have some.

Kelly Ann Doherty:

First of all, when we use the word storytelling, I think it can be intimidating. But you don't have to be Steven Spielberg to tell a great story. We actually tell stories every single day. I've told. Multiple stories in this short conversation. And so when I start talking about storytelling, I don't mean that it has to be a movie production, Oscar worthy story to be able to make an impact.

What I mean by storytelling is really that you're taking an experience and bringing it to light in a different sort of way. And so how do we do that? We really focus on using individual experiences to tell the bigger impact. So a good example of that would be, really I'll use a personal experience.

We, what, when I was in the role, we launched a new benefit for our team members and it was adoption and surrogacy benefits. We now give team members up to 10, 000 if they want to start a family via surrogacy or adoption. Fertility is covered through our medical benefits, but adoption and surrogacy we're not.

And I came to the conclusion that that was an important benefit to offer because of a personal experience that I had had. I had tried to have a child, I couldn't, and I was left with those options. And I thought, well, it's easy for me. If that's the path I want to go down, I have the money, I have the resources, but for the average team member, 10, 000 might be a barrier to entry.

And so, I really want to be able to give them that opportunity. And so when we talked about it and offered up that benefit, I told that story. And for our team members, it made such an impact, not because a thousand people have taken us up on that benefit. It's been less than a hundred since we've rolled it out, but because just knowing where it came from and why it mattered made other people feel really comfortable telling their own journey.

So now not only was I telling that story and I was talking about the benefit. But other team members were telling their story and talking about the benefit. So I find storytelling has a way of becoming viral in its own right. And that's what I love about storytelling. I could tell my story and because I did, others started to tell their own, but all in the spirit of the benefit that we had offered.

And so I always encourage people when they're thinking about rolling something out that's new or trying to get attention to connect it to something that matters to them or matters to the business. Another great way to do that is customer story. If you're talking about something that we're doing to change the customer experience, fundamentally.

Talk about a customer's life who has changed and read the story about that person. It's so much more memorable than just spitting facts at people. And so we use that quite a bit. And I used the example of Hot Take just a minute ago, but that's essentially storytelling, just in a different kind of setting.

And so we're using that all the time to really, really make sure that our people understand at a human level what we're doing and why we're doing it.

Jeff Hunt:

It feels like storytelling is a way to really increase engagement in an organization in such a meaningful and practical way. And I'm making the connection as well, Kelly Anne, to brand equity, because you think there's internal brand equity and there's external brand equity.

And so, if I'm receiving a memo about something, a new benefit, and there is no story behind that benefit. I'm not going to get, as a company, the same value out of that new benefit with my employee base than I would if I told a story about it, just like you described. Isn't that the case?

Kelly Ann Doherty:

That's exactly right.

And I talked about in my own situation how it enabled others to tell their own story, but we've also actively utilized that as a strategy in communications. When we're rolling something out. How do we activate other influencers within the organization, other leaders to share their story about their own experience?

And so, again, it's not just one person, but many people. And that's where you really get connection and engagement. Wouldn't you rather listen to a story than read a memo or, you know, listen to some boring script? It's more fun for those that are in the practice of communication, but it's also more impactful.

There's a business reason why you should be focused on storytelling and it's because it's more effective.

Topic 6. Helping managers help employees and generational differences (28:42)

Jeff Hunt:

Absolutely. Um, you mentioned something earlier about generational differences and how the generations look at technology differently and maybe even their social presence and social capital differently and My question is really around, how can we help employees improve their value by swimming outside their lane, for instance, you may have a more senior executive that really struggles with this social capital thing and also the online presence and things like that.

Or you may con, in contrast, have a younger generation person who's really struggling putting themselves out there with their team and being more forward, even though they may have great ideas. So practically speaking, how, how can we help leaders help employees to swim outside their lane?

Kelly Ann Doherty:

So, I love any question about swimming outside your lane because it's something that I like to talk about often when I'm coaching, especially people early in their career, because it's a lesson I had to learn the hard way. I was at a company. I was in communications. I was their only person, but they lost a lot of their business overnight.

It was in the middle of the financial crisis back in 2008. And I lost my job and I thought to myself, I'm so good at what I do. But here I am, not, not in a job. And I realized in that moment that there were probably other places I could have added value. And I just didn't.

I just didn't explore what that looked like because I was so focused on being kind of narrowly set in my field. And I have, since that point in time, never stayed stuck in my lane, because from a personal perspective, demonstrating that you can really navigate in a lot of different types of water. I think is really important for your long term career health.

And it makes you invaluable, because you can always jump in, but all of that being set aside, how do you help team members, leaders really think through that? And I think it's a enabling, that type of conversation or enabling them to have the conversations in a way that feels okay to them. So what I mean by that? If you've got somebody who's trying to connect with Gen Z, for example, maybe don't put them on TikTok right away.

Maybe, maybe just focus on some other things that might help to break down some of those barriers. And for us, there is a fine line between the formality of communications and then being too informal. So, this is again, where like the tips and I don't call it freedom within a framework, is applied at Mr. Cooper.

So, we encourage individual conversations, but we give you the framework of which to have those types of conversations if you're talking about company messaging. So that's one thing that I really try to focus on with our leaders. And then the other, the other that I've had to just work on over time, and I really need to think about how I've actually done this.

But that's to Take away some of the formality of the actual corporate communication. And what I mean by that is in the writing itself, the writing has changed. The tone of the writing has changed. It's a lot more approachable. And so I think cross generationally, one thing I would say is that, especially when people are trying to sound smart, they use really big word, but at the end of the day, those big words don't actually communicate intelligence.

They just watered down the message. So, I try to employ the like, the write, like we talk so that when people are reading it, they hear your voice. And that's something else that I focused on is like really stripping away that the corporate speak from our corporate speak, because that's how I've been able to help facilitate bridging that gap without crossing boundaries too far in either direction.

Jeff Hunt:

And that type of communication is just so much more approachable as a reader.

Kelly Ann Doherty:

Yes, it is.

Jeff Hunt:

It is. It's easy. You get it quickly, easily, and you don't have to spend a lot of time sort of thinking about what, what are the nuances here.

Kelly Ann Doherty:

That's right. Exactly. That's exactly right. Yeah. And you know, you've also, especially in many businesses are very complex.

The mortgage industry is very complex and what one team member works on could be very different than what another works on. Sometimes even the common language could be different. And so you've got to find ways to break it down and make it make sense. And I think that as a company, you can get really caught up in your own language, your own way of thinking and talking about things.

But I've always found that simplifying it down to a way that if anybody from outside the organization could understand what we're talking about, you're going to have more impact. The bigger words don't lead to bigger impact.

Topic 7. Advice and strategies to better understand our communication skills and perfect them (33:47)

Jeff Hunt:

Absolutely. So. Before I jump into the lightning round, I want to ask one more question, which is really related.

It might be for listeners that are really unsure about how they're doing in this area of communication, both individually, corporately, and someone might think they're doing fantastic and they're not, or vice versa. What advice do you have, Kelly Anne, for people to try to really understand better what gaps they have and what strengths they have?

Kelly Ann Doherty:

Yeah. Oh, great question. So, I think the first thing is to utilize surveys if you've got access to them. And if you don't find one, because it's not the, the question so much, it's the open field that I love to really dig into and find out if the comments on your team or within your organization are matching the intention of what you were trying to do.

That's a great place to get unfiltered feedback. Especially as a leader, it is hard to get that by just asking somebody. So you've got to find ways to do so in a safe space. And, and that I found is a great way to be safe. The other way that I would really measure yourself against is as a leader in particular, um, look at the outcomes of your team.

If your outcomes are not matching what your expectations were, there's probably a breakdown in communication. And so, uh, it requires a little bit of self reflection, and self awareness, but that's usually where I find most people don't get that the gap exists, but it's so blatantly there. And then the third tip, and this is one that I utilize still almost every single day, is I gut check with a peer or a colleague, a trusted friend in the workplace to see if what I said made sense.

And I ask for that feedback all the time. And so, if you're not getting it from your direct team, you're not seeing it necessarily in the results. Then ask. Ask a friend, somebody that you know, will give you that feedback. And usually if you ask enough, you'll start to get some really good answers. So that's some of the things that I do for myself and what I try to do for my leaders too when I watch them in action.

And I see that there could be an opportunity to be a little bit better.

Jeff Hunt:

That's fantastic. You know, sometimes we have to eat some humble pie. If we, we have to be willing to eat some humble pie to get that feedback and then actually do something. So I really appreciate that.

Kelly Ann Doherty:

Yes. So I read a book called Insights by Tashi Urich.

This was several years ago, and it's all about self-awareness. And her premise in the book is that people think that they're self-aware and really only 10 percent of the population actually is, which is a part of the problem. So when I say have exercise a little bit of self-awareness, it's a really hard thing to do because you think you're self-aware, but you are, in fact, are not.

And it does require quite a bit of. I wouldn't call it humble pie, a willingness to be better, um, in order to get the type of feedback that will help to move you, in the right direction.

Jeff Hunt:

Yeah. And it also feels like that self-awareness must start with an improved sense of presence, being able to be present with each other, rather than thinking about the future and what I haven't accomplished or the past and what I did or didn't accomplish or what's broken or what, you know what I mean?

Kelly Ann Doherty:

Yes. A hundred percent. Yes. Yeah.

Topic 8. Lighting round questions (37:14)

Jeff Hunt:

Yeah. Okay. You ready for the lightning round? Let's go. What are you most grateful for?

Kelly Ann Doherty:

Oh, my family. That's my family and my dogs. Uh, it's hard to go much beyond that, but if I were to go beyond that. I would say it's the, the team I'm surrounded with at Mr.Cooper, like, and I'm talking even more so about the people that work for me and have helped to be coaches for me, in a lot of different regards.

Jeff Hunt:

I just have to say go dog lovers because I love them too.

Kelly Ann Doherty:

Right now I'm really glad I have headphones in because my two giant dogs are crying downstairs. It is about two minutes past their dinner time and they've lost, they've lost it. So they'll survive though.

Jeff Hunt:

What's the most difficult leadership lesson you've learned over your career?

Kelly Ann Doherty:

So, I talked about the importance of swimming outside your lane, and that is one that I come back to time and time again, and I don't know that I would say that this is the hardest, but it's been the most important and that is how critical active listening is in leadership.

I don't think I fully understood that. And thankfully I've had some really great coaches along the way who pointed out that that was an opportunity for me. I have a tendency to run and gun. I'm highly energetic and I like to talk. And so I'm just go, go, go. But I needed to start listening more.

And so I talked about how grateful I am for my team at Mr. Cooper. They've really helped me to understand how important it is that I listen to not just the employees, but to my team. And that is something that I think every great leader should have.

Jeff Hunt:

Absolutely. And I'll just reflect on the difference between listening to understand and listening to reply.

You know, if we, if we can all just stop and ponder that for a second, are we actually listening to understand, are we listening to reply? That feels like half the battle in the communication war.

Kelly Ann Doherty:

Oh, a hundred percent right. And I will be honest. I was a listen to reply. I was a debater all through high school.

That's what you did. You listened to reply. And so I had to really change that mindset. And there was one woman in particular, her name was Lynn Mewald. And she was, um, an HR leader, had been doing it for years and years and years when I took over leading the HR organization at Mr. Cooper. And I remember vividly one day she came into my office.

About a month into the job and she looked at me and said, you are doing too much and you're not hearing us. You need to slow down. And I was like, Oh, okay. Like thank you. But she just, I mean, direct in the eyes and she had such impact with her words. And I think about that moment a lot now and I've changed the way that I listen because she was basically saying, you're not listening.

You need to hear us because we are the people, the experts, and let's find a way together. And I really, I really valued, I really valued that.

Jeff Hunt:

May we all be so thankful for those people that speak into it.

Kelly Ann Doherty:

My gosh. Super, super grateful for her.

Jeff Hunt:

Who is one person you would interview if you could, living or not?

Kelly Ann Doherty:

So I feel like I'm going to be a prisoner of the moment right now and I'm going to say Taylor Swift and the reason I'm going to say Taylor Swift is because she has just created such a force around her, the impact that she has on the communities that she performs in, the people that are fans of hers and I just, I want to better understand Have What's inspired her, what's motivated her and how she's evolved her own thinking as she's grown in her stardom.

And then what she does with that responsibility. I mean, that is an immense amount of pressure. It is. So if you really take a step back and think about the power of her words, have her actions, have like, how does she navigate those decisions and get comfortable with that power? My, my dad. My dad used to always say, and I thought that this was my dad, but it turns out it was Spider Man.

So my dad's not a genius, but or maybe it's just not in this way, but it was with great power comes great responsibility. And when I think about power, she's just somebody with an incredible amount of power. So, I'd be really curious to see how she thinks about that responsibility.

Jeff Hunt:

Just as an add on, do you think that so many people are attracted to her and what she's doing and what she's built because of her authenticity? We were talking about authenticity earlier.

Kelly Ann Doherty:

A thousand percent. In fact, I was listening to a podcast about her recently and they talked about how that's been her superpower. And one of the things I'd be interested to know is how she thinks about that as she grows. I mean, it's hard to be a relatable person as a billionaire.

So how do you balance, how do you balance that? And, um, over time, I think that there's going to need to be an evolution for her, just like there's an evolution for, for all of us as humans, but how does she do that and bring everybody else along? And you want to talk about culture. Your culture is not static, not even at organizations.

And there are times when culture has to shift. Within your own company. And so watching her go through that shift in real time and then see what that's going to look like and how she's thinking about that change. It would be fascinating to me.

Jeff Hunt:

Definitely. Do you have a book recommendation for our listeners?

Kelly Ann Doherty:

I love the book, The Heart of Business by Hubert Jolly. He was the guy that led the turnaround for Best Buy. The book is fantastic. And if you're somebody in the practice of communications or culture and trying to understand how to speak to a CEO about change, that is the book for you. He really was super transparent about the challenges and opportunities that they had at Best Buy.

And I thought it was a very easy, relatable, but valuable read.

Jeff Hunt:

And for those listeners that are driving, and you couldn't write that down, I actually have that book on my books list on our podcast website. So go to the human capital.com podcast website, and you'll see Jeff's books and you go in there and then you'll see that's on that list. So, I'm glad you mentioned that one.

Kelly Ann Doherty:

I actually did not know that but I'm really glad that that we're aligned there. I thought it was an excellent book. It was also on my CEO's read list a couple of years ago. And this, hey, hot tip for anybody listening, if you find out your CEO's reading a book, read the same book, it really helps you to get insight into how they're thinking about things.

Jeff Hunt:

Absolutely. Kelly Anne, what's the best piece of advice you've ever received?

Kelly Ann Doherty:

Um, man, the best piece of advice. I already talked about like swimming outside my lane. I, you know, I think it's, I have one boss, my first boss out of college. God, that guy was so good, so creative, so strategic in his thinking.

And he said, just jump in. He was the master of just jumping in. And so when you think about swimming outside your lane, it's really similar in that thought process. You've really got to trust yourself, trust your instincts, trust your capabilities, and then jump in. If somebody's giving you an opportunity to try something new, that means that they see something that maybe you don't even see in yourself, but if you jump in, you're either going to swim or you're going to sink, and then either way, you're going to learn a lot of lessons along the way.

So I love, just jumping in. My dogs have, my dogs have joined us. Um, nobody can see us, but they've, they've entered the chat, so.

Jeff Hunt:

They're ready. They're hungry.

Kelly Ann Doherty:

They've had enough of you talking up there. Okay.

Jeff Hunt:

All right. I'm going to let you go, but I do want you to share, you know, we've had such a great conversation when you think about everything we've talked about, Kelly Anne. What's the most important takeaway to leave our listeners with?

Kelly Ann Doherty:

I'm gonna have to pick one thing. Well, one, how important storytelling is in engagement and really encouraging people to think differently about the way that they tell stories, I think is really key to success.

And it's, um, a way to really resonate with all of the audiences that you might have, um, at your organization. Find ways to tell stories and do so in unique ways. And I think that that can help to build an authenticity. And then, you know, think about communication in both the little C and big C sort of way.

Communication is critical from a company perspective, but all leaders, all team members have an obligation to communicate with one another. And if you're finding your organization struggling with that, give them tips and tools. But don't give them, don't give them the answer, and I think that you'll start to see progress.

Jeff Hunt:

Such a great message and such a great conversation. Thank you so much for coming on the show today, Kelly Anne.

Kelly Ann Doherty:

Oh, thank you so much for having me. I really enjoyed it.

OUTRO (46:50)

Jeff Hunt:

Thanks for listening to Human Capital. If you like this show, please tell your friends and also take the time to go rate and review us. Human Capital is a production of Goalspan, your integrated source for performance management. Now go out and be the inspiration to other humans, and thank you for being human, kind.

Human Capital — 75. Embracing Authenticity
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