Ashley Herd 0:00
So the employee experience is really what lives and breathes it. It has truly very little to do with, say the values on the wall or the values in your handbook. It’s it’s those those side comments in that feeling when employees are in their best moments in their toughest moments, if they feel like they’re gonna get the support and development and what place that’s coming from. And so I think the employee experience is incredibly, incredibly important.

Anne Bibb 0:25
Welcome to unexpected Journey, the show where each week top professionals share work wisdom and life lessons about their careers and what they have learned about human experience in the workplace. I’m your host, Anne Bibb. This week we have Ashley Herd, Ashley is the founder of Manager Method.

Anne Bibb 0:44
She has worked as an attorney at AmLaw 50 firm and at some of the world’s top companies. She’s been named one of the top three HR TikTok Creators by the Financial Times and has appeared in CNN, NPR and CEO weekly. Before we begin, don’t forget to subscribe and leave your comments below. Now, let’s get started. Welcome back to unexpected journey this week, we have Manager Method, also known as Ashley Herd, I know I should say that back and forth and like reverse that. But you know, so many people now know you as Manager Method that it’s kind of like you’re no longer Ashley Herd your Manager Method. So, you know, there it is.

Ashley Herd 1:28
We all need an alter ego. So I’m happy to have a slightly anonymized version of myself out there.

Anne Bibb 1:34
It has been an absolutely wild ride. I’ve been watching you since the beginning. And it’s been incredible to see this really take off for you. Congratulations.

Ashley Herd 1:47
Thank you. I mean, it’s it’s truly like I started I started my TikTok like just over like a year ago like a year and a few days ago, like zero followers any of this stuff. So if you were to like have fast forward and showed me this like my eyes absolutely would have been but it and it has it has been a wild ride. And like anything, I’m to be completely honest about the ups and downs of every aspect of that. And I’m sure we’ll get into it. But I appreciate it. And you’ve been such a great supporter for so long Anne and I love your podcast, so I’m tickled to be here.

Anne Bibb 2:19
So I have to you the first question I have to ask is what everybody’s dying to know. How is Luke?

Ashley Herd 2:28
Looks good. Luke’s good. Look, when I started, you know, Luke was really clueless and Luke, Luke was sassy. Luke was sassy and Luke. So Luke, some people will say, is Luke a real person? I say, Well, what I’ve learned is Luke is very much a real person in many organizations across largely probably US, but other other places as well.

Anne Bibb 2:45
I agree with that. I’ve met a few Luke’s I’ve worked for a few Luke’s

Ashley Herd 2:50
I think we’ve all known a few Luke’s professionally and personally. And so sometimes things you know, you’ve experienced, you’ve had conversations with other times, you know, there’s nothing like a girlfriend’s text chain to get some influence for other Luke type behaviors. But But Luke, one thing that I tried to do with Luke is to show that Luke could learn at times and it’s like Paula Abdul, you know, however many steps forward and many steps back. But why Luke went through many challenges that I think a lot of managers do by not knowing better. And sometimes we’re just having flat out bad intent. Towards the end of the year, Luke gave a holiday message and took a lot of my learnings and gave people nice time off different packages. And I will tell you, I posted this video, and so many comments would be like, Oh, my God, why am I crying over this fictional CEO? I said, I did the same when I when I when I watched it, but we all want this redemption story, which is why I kind of show up and make my content every day.

Anne Bibb 3:47
I think it’s very interesting. And I know one of the reasons that it started to draw me in was the real relatability of it. But that’s a word right? relatability like, yeah, whether it’s not it is it is now.

Ashley Herd 4:05
Yep, yep. It is. Absolutely.

Unknown Speaker 4:08
That every time that you’re talking to Luke, it’s like your I can hear you actually utilizing what feels like or maybe a real world scenario that has been in the news recently. And you’re addressing it to this person in a way that I’m like, Why doesn’t somebody say this to the CEO that needs to actually hear it right now today?

Ashley Herd 4:34
Yeah, it’s, it’s true and it’s funny because some people will say this is true. Nobody ever speaks like that. There are CEOs and other leaders that I’ve worked with that will tell you that is exactly how I speak with them. And you know, some of it when you know Luke, especially the beginning used to always start off with a, you know, joke jokey, sarcastic comment. I’ve worked with plenty of leaders that always have those. Some of that certainly can be drawn for real life, but I always try A in mind to meet people where they are. And so with Luke, for example, like people say like, oh, you’re, you’re condescending, well, sometimes I try not to be. So I do take that to heart. But sometimes you have you have to it’s and I’m going to senior leader, I can’t be if I’m going to be Judy joiner, I can’t be deferential Judy joiner, you have to kind of show your chops and you know, meet them on that level and talk about what they care about. And a lot of times for CEOs, that’s money. So I tell people, I wish you would care about people because it’s the right thing to do. But here is why you should treat people this way. And you will make more money by doing it. And hopefully people can learn their lesson over time. But so meeting people where they are has been a fun part of dealing with the Luke’s behind the screen.

Anne Bibb 5:40
And I think it’s great because meeting people where they’re where they are, is it, it impacts customer experience, it impacts employee experience, I mean, meeting people where they are, it’s kind of human experience in itself. And when I talk to people about HR as a whole, which is really where your passion is, yeah. They’re scared of HR right now. And that didn’t us well, at least, it didn’t feel like it used to be the biggest issue. But over the last few years, it really has kind of turned into this whole HR is not your friend, HR is out to protect the company. HR is the bad guy. And whenever I talk to you, you’re like, Well, I’m here, you know, HR is here to try and be in the middle HR is, you know, that’s what they’re there for. And I love the way that you put these things as you’re trying to teach HR leaders.

Ashley Herd 6:46
Thank you. And it is HR. You know, I actually started more doing HR before I went to law school, like I started, I was an intern for a large law firm in Louisville, Kentucky, and their HR department. And I remember my my dad telling me like, Oh, nobody messes with HR, because they like to get paid. Well, now, strategic HR people will tell you, like payroll is often a function that falls within HR, but HR is so much more than that. It really well looking for developing people. So I think for a long time, HR, you know, I don’t know, when the resource part got put in it, it really wasn’t a resource. It was like, you know, get your paycheck. And here’s your personnel file. And you know, here you go. And in the last 20 years, I think there has been a lot more strategy. But one thing I think is like any cost center, and I recognize this from from legal, which really is the one that’s out there to protect a company, and having Ooh, you’ve been having

Unknown Speaker 7:34
a good point legal is actually the one that should be protecting the company.

Ashley Herd 7:38
I tell the people that all the time, I say, Well, I’ve been both legal is to protect the company, I say if but even when I was strictly a lawyer, protecting the company doesn’t mean being a jerk. I was gonna say another word, also being a jerk. And having a resolution that makes everyone unhappy, because whether how any employee is going to they’re going to take action or do things, a lot of it’s based on how they feel. So even if you’re in the right, legally, like hopefully, you never have to get to that courtroom point. So even as a lawyer, you have to have, you know, a brain and a heart. But in HR, you know, as with legal HR, I’ve lived my life, despite I worked in sales out of Las out of college, between college and law school for two years, and I saw we had like, cash drops and all these, like, it was like, I saw why so many people are like us sales, you know, because sales gets so much. But that’s because they bring in that revenue when you when you’re bringing in revenue, you get rewarded. I’ve lived most of my professional career as a cost center. And so as a cost center, that means there’s going to be as few as possible to not just not get in trouble. Plenty of companies have so few that like you can’t handle everything. And so, in HR, you have people that are overworked. So complaints often are I never hear from HR, I don’t even know what they do. There’s a lot of invisible conversations. Because when it comes to things like termination, rarely, rarely, rarely is that decided by HR and often are they even in the loop until it’s okay now take out this action. But they frequently are the messengers, because the thought is well, nobody else can have this so so HR can often be a really thankless short staffed job. And there’s also people don’t have training.

Anne Bibb 9:13
That’s a really good point. They’re not the decision maker. They’re not one that said, this person is not meeting goals, this person’s not doing their job. They are just the person that is telling you,

Ashley Herd 9:29
I mean in real life and I know this from different individuals on HR. So one of the things social media is great at is kind of it’s kind of horrifying and validating when you see people have these shared experiences, but frequently in HR, the role of an HR person, especially a generalist or you know up to senior person, you’ll get a phone call from someone and they say, Oh, you we need to make a change. We’re going to we’re going to look at this person, and it’s hrs job and it’s really their job and some feel like they have the voice and some don’t. Because, you know, they they don’t, they don’t want to lose their job or they don’t know how to say But as to challenge back and say, Okay, well, let’s walk through what conversations will the person be surprised all of the wholesale aspects of that conversation. So that employee that ends up getting put on a performance plan may never see that HR had at least fought for them to get a performance plan or have clear performance conversations, rather than just get x. So a lot of it is that invisible work, that HR is really trying to fight for that outcome. And it’s not as a friend, it’s, it’s doing the right thing for everybody involved,

Anne Bibb 10:28
Going along those lines..what is employee experience?

Ashley Herd 10:32
Employee experience is the same thing as customer experience. It’s just a truly as just your internal customers. And I say that to make it easier for heads of sales, and all of that to think about the importance. But if you think about that, what you’re doing to think about your ideal customer in that profile, thinking about your ideal employee. So like in HR, for example, do you want an HR person that’s just gonna push? Or do you want someone that’s going to challenge people, then okay, then you need to give that HR person the employee experience. So you need to think about investing in them to that they have feel confident having that outcome. And so it’s thinking all about What feelings do you want that person to have? Or you’re someone do you want to give the experience of being a place where people can try new roles, then is that experience going to be one where they’re afraid to speak up, or if you, you may have all the great parental leave in the world. But if people are afraid to tell you that they’re pregnant, because they’ve heard the side comments that managers will make, so the employee experience is really what lives and breathes it, it has truly very little to do with, say, the values on the wall or the values in your handbook. It’s it’s those those side comments in that feeling when employees are in their best moments in their toughest moments, if they feel like they’re going to get the support and development in what place that’s coming from. And so I think the employee experience is incredibly, incredibly important.

Anne Bibb 11:52
Would you agree or disagree that it starts from the moment that somebody applies to your organization, all the way through to the moment that they leave? That employee experience is holistic all the way through? It’s not employee engagement, employee engagement and employee experience are not the same thing.

Ashley Herd 12:14
I totally agree. I think that’s such a good point. Because you hear whether you hear those interchangeably or people don’t know, again, the engagement, I think, is that discretionary effort people are going to put through when they’re at work, employee experience is truly like that, that almost like brand messaging, and I absolutely it starts. So it starts from what your job postings look like it are you I say it now there’s these different places you have to do salary, you know, salary disclosures. I have been preaching from the rooftop for a while now ever since Colorado, did there’s that every organization should put it in the job posting.

Anne Bibb 12:45
Yes, please. And thank you. Hello, everybody.

Ashley Herd 12:49
It’s it just it’s, it’s first of all,

Anne Bibb 12:51
why are we hiding it?

Ashley Herd 12:53
It because because of the reasons the same, the same reason that you’ll see now from the some of the salary ranges will say from without much exaggeration, 50,000 to $350,000. It’s ridiculous. You think, Okay, tell me more. And so I’ve done like, organizations, I’m like, let’s come up with one. And let’s have it and below that amount, you’re going to explain what that would look like, you know, obviously, there should never be arranged that big, but I get that there’s going to be a range, and then that’s probably right. But I’d say put it in real terms, say you know, at this range, we’d expect you to the top range, we would expect you to come in and do these things. Otherwise, we’re gonna have to invest in other resources, which maybe people maybe training maybe things and we want to give you a path to improve. So it might be on the lower end, if I saw a job description that looked like that and spoke real truth, that thing would go viral. Because people be like, Oh my God, this company that actually like talks about things and doesn’t just meet the bare frickin minimum requirement. I am the volunteer US and Canada company director or country director for the circle back initiative, which is out of started out of Australia with Steve guard. So I will go plug this a little bit which that is it’s it’s it’s a complete volunteer organization to get work employers to commit to responding to every applicant and stage gating as the process goes on.

Unknown Speaker 14:06
It’s no more ghosting, no more. #Nomoreghosting

Ashley Herd 14:10
And so no language in the in Australia, and it’s just, it’s, it’s on Australia, and I’ve lived there I can translate a bit. So they’ll say only shortlisted applicants will apply. You know, in the US, you tend to see only it’s only selected applicants, you know, chosen applicants will but we contacted but to respond to everybody and to provide the information you can get as a lawyer can be really cautious about what people are putting out. But then as things go on to not have situations of someone that’s interviewed. So for a long time and they never hear back so that aspect absolutely absolutely starts the employee experience everything through and when they leave, and even after I say people are walking billboards for your organization, what that what they felt like at the end of the day, and what kind of message do you want to be sending because I have people now at places I used to work, I’ve referred people places I used to work But I have great relationships, I think every single place I’ve worked, so I’d refer people back to those places, because I’ve had terrific experiences. In almost every, every place I’ve worked. This is

Anne Bibb 15:11
a little bit different, but I’ve been in the job doing a great job. It is the job I was hired for. But now a special project comes up. And you want me to do something that’s outside of the scope of what I was hired to do? What do I do? Do I agree to it? Do I ask for a raise? Do I ask for a title change? Like how do as an employee, I’m like, I want you to promote up within this organization. But I also have boundaries.

Ashley Herd 15:44
My first step, which you won’t be surprised about is that it’s really on organizations. And And people sometimes are like, oh, like, don’t you ever criticize, you know, criticize employees? Make it nice? I’m sure employees. Yeah, absolutely, I can do plenty of content on man, employees could be better. But I said my work is a lot for organizations being better and things to do. So organizations, when ever they’re asking someone to take things on, in, I get that there’s times you have a need, and they’re short things, access, people may be out on a medical leave there, there may be times like that, and sometimes you just gotta pitch in and know that by the grace of God, something happens to you, other people are gonna pitch in. And sometimes you just you just you just do it, and the manager needs it. And you kind of handle it. But for things like this, that you’re seeing when really people are asked to take on, I think it’s twofold, no matter what it is short term, long term anything. The manager leader, there should always be having the conversation to the employee of what is your current workload. And sometimes I’ll say that people like the manager should always know what the employee is doing. I’m like, well, that’s not possible. Like, there’s other things coming from coming in. And so while that’s great, in theory, the manager should talk me like, tell me about your current workload. Generally, there’s a reason job descriptions say other duties as needed. And that’s fine, like things progress, but to your point, to not get taken advantage of, it’s just to talk with your manager, and one is meeting people where they are, you generally want to project that type of like team player, if you don’t want to work at an organization fine. But I tell people all the time, like, even if you’re so pissed that they just asked you to do something, like, show their show that you’re positive, because you are gonna get more things with honey than bees or whatever.

Unknown Speaker 17:15
And we want to be clear, though, that that’s not like toxic positivity. No,

Ashley Herd 17:19
no, it’s not. It’s just saying, but it’s framing the conversation to say, you know, I want like I, I want to grow to grow here. And if you don’t, then that’s another conversation that you should feel empowered to have.

Anne Bibb 17:32
So if Ex, employee experience, is equivalent, or has such a positive impact on customer experience, I mean, because if you don’t take care of your employees, they’re not going to take care of your customers. Yeah. Where do cus where the company start? I mean, where do we really start putting our impact? is do we? Do we start with the frontlines? Or do we start with the managers? Do we start with executives, where do we really start making that impact on EX?

Ashley Herd 18:06
It’s? That’s a great question.

Anne Bibb 18:09
Well, that’s my job, Ashley.

Ashley Herd 18:10
It’s so good. I’m so that’s so good. And it is it’s a it’s a complex question, because it depends on the organization and their buy in. I mean, there’s some to your words, toxic positive organizations where the leadership thinks everything’s fine. And Glassdoor paints another picture, or Glassdoor may say it’s fine. Everyone else is, you know, is living is living stressed out. So let’s say in your in your organization, where across the board, there’s just not this commitment leaders are bought in your frontline managers on board in frontline employees aren’t feeling like they’re supported. I think it starts with leadership and using that cost base to say, we are losing money because of how we’re treating employees. Now, what can we do about it? Where can we spend our time and resources and invest, turn that around and framing it in that way? But I think and I think frontline managers are the biggest bang for your buck. But telling leaders you have to, you’re gonna have to support this because if we have, if we’re providing this training on in thinking holistically about how to help managers work with employees, we cannot have leaders going around and rolling their eyes or making you know, tweets or doing whatever, that’s completely undermining all we’re doing. And so we’re putting it in those very stark terms about losing money and being frank about that. And then talking through and again, hopefully people start to see that that buy in, but I think educating the leaders in really attacking frontline managers first I think is

Anne Bibb 19:35
not attacking, not

Ashley Herd 19:43
tracking the gaps in frontline management,

Anne Bibb 19:46
so I’m, I’m one of the frontline or you know, a supervisor a manager. I see this. Okay, I see that there is a need that my teams are struggling that we need to, we need to invest in employee experience. But my leadership is not like they don’t get it. They just think that customer experience needs to be fixed. They don’t see the tie in. How do I take this? And present this to my executive leadership team, my C suite or even SVPS? VPS? Like how do I help them understand that they need to invest in the people?

Ashley Herd 20:35
I think one of the best resources I tell people is, much like when I was a liberal arts college major, and started cold calling CFOs for sales, which is my first job after interning in HR, I got a subscription to Fortune at the time, because I felt like I needed to learn financial lingo I did, because I was working CFOs. Now for anyone in any aspect of of management leadership, especially those trying to build a case to senior leadership, you often need to have data. And so things like getting a subscription to HBr. Often making that case is speaking in that language and language at the board I I just came across Qualtrics employee experience report, same thing, the trends report, they pulled out things and things that you can do to be better. And so, you know, I say, any employee that has an opinion, and especially in an open door policy, that opinion should be respected. I’m also a realist. And if you say something, and you say it as yourself, and then you say the exact same thing and say this came from, like, HBr research move, like, it’s 100 times the volume got turned up real high on that. And so, if you can make a very succinct, very succinct thing, basically saying that, like, we are losing money based on our employee experience, our customers, you know, we’re losing customers, because of because of our employees. And if you can say things and back that up with some, you know, salient little points from from Harvard Business Review, you can open your speaking that lingo, you often can at least open the door. At a certain point, if people aren’t going to listen to you, and they’re going to be stuck in their ways, then you have to look externally. And that’s just the name of the game, because you can’t spend your career trying to convince people that ultimately don’t want to be helped. But I always say, trying to make that case, the best way that you can meet their language. And I say like the biggest tool is getting HBr subscription.

Anne Bibb 22:19
So you blossomed last year on social with Luke, and with managing method, and you now have a absolutely thriving business with manager method. What is your advice to somebody that wants to follow in those footsteps and wants to? I mean, they’ve been wanting to do it for a while. They’re like, this is my year, I want to do it. But I’ve been so scared. What do you what talk to them right now

Ashley Herd 22:50
this is this is, this is a time more than maybe any other to think about what truly you care about, and not what you think others expect of you what your family and your friends think should happen, how good it feels to hit post on a new job on LinkedIn, and you’re gonna be so excited to get the kudos. And then you’re going to dread every second after, because you’re gonna be so stressed out and feel like it’s taken over your life. But thinking about what you really want. So for me, years ago, I was leaving Australia, and I thought I want to have this life that I have more flexibility, but I still do work. And I don’t know what that looks like. And so a lot of his team started, like if you want to do something in your current line of work or leverage your knowledge. For me, it was thinking, you know, what am I really good at? And I thought I’ve spent a lot of time helping people have really difficult conversations and help literally writing out scripts for them. So that was my first idea for manager method was to create like a, an app that would like automatically generate scripts for, you know, performance or other conversations. I know I do that and have some of that, but it’s obviously evolved. But for me, it was leveraging, I can make tough moments better. And so it was took a long time to figure out what that could exactly look like when I started my so so I think thinking about what you might want to do for business, it can be really daunting, and some people have different restrictions on what they can do for work. But I tell people, I’ve had a few people now, too, come up with like, come up with something that’s totally not with work or it’s totally unrelated like a T shirt idea, but it’s thinking about what really brings you joy like as I’m as I’m talking to people, I love it. I’m an extrovert other people are like hell to the no. And so you have to think about that thing. The number one thing if you don’t have a social presence, and so my social presence when I started, I had no ties to my business for four months. It was a lot about having these conversations, but it was also different. I would like play music and do these captions. But on Tik Tok, sometimes it would blow up the caption really big and then people would have comments they’d be like, Hey idiot, learn how to edit. Like other some other people, but like I’d have, like I have some people now like somebody sent me a message. When I crossed like a bigger milestone, some I was like, Oh my God, they’re like, I followed you when you had like 50 followers and I saw this, and I knew you’d have this success. The number one thing is consistency. And so if you want to do something you have to be able to commit and people like how do you hit post like, oh my god, some days, I’m still nervous to hit post or but like I, I stopped caring a while ago, I I really wanted to focus on living a life I was proud of in my family was proud of stopping caring what people think of you and think about what brings you joy. And if you love working in corporate America, then by God, you keep doing that. And you like, enjoy that. And if you’re worried about things, then then probably don’t work in tech work somewhere that’s a bit more like one of my girlfriend’s, she’s like, the best thing I ever did was work at a boring business because like we are super boring, nobody knows. But it’s super steady. And it allows me to like live my life outside of it. And it’s they’re not worried about like, reputational things like I would working at like, a KFC or McKinsey somewhere that’s like in the news. She’s like, I just cruise on, nobody even knows what my company does. And so it’s thinking about what works for you and doing some of those steps. So it doesn’t have to be a massive like, quit your job and move but like, with social media, like I love Tik Tok, because it’s really easy to use, really easy to use. That’s why I started using it. And so not caring what people think and just find content that that you that you enjoy, and look what other people do and don’t don’t mimic what anybody does. But like coming up with your your unique stamp, the world needs to hear it, nobody can speak of things like you.

Anne Bibb 26:31
Two questions, one, why would somebody reach out to you? And two, how would they?

Ashley Herd 26:38
out to me often most because of manager frame as manager method. So what I really hone in on and so now what I probably do, the most two things are to my like manager one on one course, which is I do have which is scalable. So if your organization is like I’m going to make manager training this year, and that’s item 500. On your list, I’m like totally been there. But I’ve done it, you can have it ready tomorrow. And so and so I have manager one on one. So people can do this video training for managers, individual self paced, and also toolkits organizations can run, follow up, I don’t call them role plays, because some people don’t like that. But like situation has a really bad, it has a connotation, but the whole point of it is is people have heard enough from me at that point. But I have this toolkit. So organization can use and plug and play and HR can run it in managers give each other feedback, they work through things, it gives feedback to get for them so proud

Anne Bibb 27:31
I’m so glad that you actually kept that still G rated because that’s not where my head went when I said role play.

Ashley Herd 27:41
Yep, that’s that is why that is one of the reasons why I don’t say it, I called situational, you know, there you go. Yeah, and they can and I tell people you’re gonna, and it says that you’re gonna you’re gonna mess up. So So I have these these in the so that’s the thing I’m probably spending my most time on. The other is that I love doing right now is I’m completely rewriting employee handbooks, which I did was one of the first things I did as a junior associate, but I didn’t rewrite them. I would like redline only for legal things. And I remember reading like, Oh, this is awful. I asked the partner like, should I read the recommendations? And they’re like, No, you’re just be a lawyer. And so I now though, I will largely wholly rewrite these handbooks so that they’re more like welcoming, welcoming documents. And so those are the two things I’m probably doing the most. I really enjoy them so you can find me at is my website so you can learn more about me and what I do there. Whether you’re an employee or manager or an organization on Tiktok, I’m @managermethod on Instagram, I’m @managermethod and LinkedIn I am Ashley Herd, which is manager method but a damn connected to another Ashley heard on LinkedIn. They don’t actually know in real life, but I connect with her because we have the same name. So Herd that’s always misspelled. It’s always misspelled.

Anne Bibb 28:56
And as with every other show, all of those links will be below and thank you so much, Ashley for joining. Always enjoy talking to you. Love hearing how Luke’s doing and everybody else. Look forward to seeing you again

Anne Bibb 29:12
next week. As we wrap the episode up, we would like to take this time to thank you for joining us this week on unexpected journey. Our guest information will be linked in the episode description along with a link to our company website remote and our hosts website Anne Please don’t forget to like subscribe and share on your favorite podcast app and on our YouTube channel so that you never miss an episode and we can continue to bring them to you. Let us know your thoughts on what we discussed in the comment section. And once again, thank you for joining us. We hope to see you again next week for another episode of Unexpected Journey.

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