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In this episode of The Inner Chief, you’ll hear from Fiona Crawford OLY, Chief Human Resources Officer of CreditorWatch, on doing extra, celebrating success, and enabling the business.
Fiona joined fintech startup, CreditorWatch, in September 2021 as GM of People & Culture.
Her career spans almost 20 years in human resources, training and coaching across a range of industries including sport, fitness, finance, hospitality and automotive.
Fiona is a dual Olympian softballer, claiming the bronze and silver medals for Australia at the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Olympic Games respectively.
In this episode we talk all about:
- How she got a place on the team by always doing extra;
- Why the successful teams are the ones that encourage feedback;
- Teaching organisations to celebrate success; and
- Removing the noise and enabling the business.
Connecting with Fiona Crawford OLY
You can connect with Fiona via LinkedIn
Books and resources
- The Man in the Mirror – by Wayne Bennett
“In terms of HR itself, my job description sits on a post-it note on my workstation, and it just says: Remove the noise and enable the business.”
On doing extra and sporting lessons
- So I was always big on doing extra, doing the 1% that nobody else does. And again I carry that into how I work in the sense that I know that people are always watching. So as an executive, if you're setting the standard of working hard, and I'm not saying doing stupid hours, but working on the right things that are going to make a difference.
- That's one thing I think sports taught me is the ability to flex things like communication styles, pace of work, style of work, all of those things. I played with some athletes that I just really connected with. And I also played with some athletes where the relationship was really clunky, but at the end of the day I knew what she was good at. She knew what I was good at. We both knew what we wanted to achieve. So you cross that white line and it's, “Let's just get this done.
- The transferable skills of being incredibly focused on what I needed to do and prioritising time management – these both translated so easily into the corporate world and that sort of discipline has held me in really good stead.
On prioritisation of activities
- The dream to play in the Australian softball team was so big that I needed to bucket it into areas and to really timeline what I could expect to achieve in the next six months, and the next 12 months.
- It's about working with the leadership team and the managers to identify, “What's needed now? What do I need to do now? What do I need to do in six months? What do I need to do in 12 months?” so that everything has context. And once it's got that context and you know where you want to go, then it's easier to see what you need to do.
On trust and honesty
- The best sales teams that I've worked with are those guys that sit in a room, they cold call together. They give each other feedback. “Hey, that worked really well. How about you try this?” They don't hold their little secret sales nuggets to themselves. They understand that if they're going to close a deal they might need some help from somebody, but it's going to help them get their target. It's going to help the overall sales team get their target and the business.
- I'm always really clear with people that I work with that I will say, “I will give you feedback. I'll give you open feedback and where appropriate I'll give it to you in the moment.”
- If feedback is delivered with the right context and with the right intent, it can be hugely powerful.
- There is nothing more inspiring than seeing a leader put their hand up and say, “I did this and I didn't achieve what I set out to, but you know what I'm going to do, I'm going to do this,” or, “I need your help.” Leaders like that are so real that you actually want to perform well for them.
On celebrating success
- What I probably struggled a little bit when I retired and came into full-time corporate world was just, people were afraid to have fun and people were afraid to celebrate. I'd come off this career where somebody gets a hit, somebody slides into home plates and you get your high five, your cheer. You really, really celebrate.
- That's one thing that I'm very passionate about is just maybe not high fiving in the office, but just making sure that businesses celebrate success, and really stop and take stock and reflect and review because that's what teams do after they play.
- They don't just move on to the next game. They stop and reflect. What did we do well? How did we get there? How does that translate into the next game, the next quarter, the next financial year? I think organisations really need to make sure that they're really stopping and celebrating success.
On seeking out mentors
- I basically said to Wayne (Bennett) in a letter I wrote to him, “Look, this is where I'm at. I think I've still got something left in me, but I don't know how to get there. You obviously do that every day in your coaching career. Can you help me?” Four weeks later, the phone rang and, “Fiona, I got your letter, it's Wayne Bennett.”
- I think people underestimate that most people are inherently good people that do want to help, and they get a kick out of it just as much as you get a kick out of the help. So if anything, just put your hand up, be brave enough and ask for help.
On the value of connectedness
- Maintaining that connectedness to every aspect of a business is vital. To the strategy of the overall organisation, connectedness to their role, to their peers, to the values.
- The key to that is really skilling up our people leaders. They are critical in the next 6, 12, 18 months to making sure that remains the case, because they're the ones that are dealing with their employees, whether it be face-to-face or via Teams each and every day.
On enabling the business
- We've got some of the smartest people in the country working at this business. And if I can just get rid of all the other stuff and just allow them to do what they need to do, then that's my job.
- I think people just assume that HR is the fun police, but I'm certainly not. I think people just assume that we'll slow them down with processes and protocols and policies and those sorts of things. The best HR practitioners that I've seen just enable the business.
- Granted, all organisations need structure, processes and systems. That's the foundation of how you scale an organisation. But it's making sure that they're fit for purpose.
- The issue is where organisations call it transformational change. Most businesses don't need transformational change. They need a tweak here and there, but not monumental change, and employees don't want monumental change if it's not needed.
- It becomes too big and employees go, “Well, that's so big. I actually don't know what you want me to do differently now.” I think just making it really, really simple so that employees can understand what it is you want them to do and why.
Final message of wisdom and hope for future leaders
- A lot of people talk about purpose. I'm more about legacy. I think, understand and know what legacy you want to leave. I'm very mindful, and it's something that my father instilled into me, was just being mindful that people are watching you and people remember every interaction that they have with you, so make it meaningful. And whether you stay with an organisation for two years or 20 years, just every day do something that builds on your legacy.
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