How To Identify And Retain Fantastic Talent With Faye Tylee of Avaya & Kage Spatz

HR Strategy Series, Real Human Resources

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Knowing there is room for creativity, is very attractive in a world where each new generation challenges the status quo. Allowing creativity offers opportunity to make a difference and be successful.

Millions of people can benefit from learning how those involved in the hiring process think and operate. Of course, HR professionals can learn a lot from one another as well. The goal of this particular series is to aid HR leaders in their hiring and retention strategies, as well as to teach prospects what hiring managers actually look for.

As a part of my HR Strategy Series, I’m talking to top experts in the field about the top strategies they use to identify and retain fantastic talent. If you look up how many employees Avaya has, you’ll notice real quick that today’s guest must be on top of her game at all times. I had the pleasure of interviewing Faye Tylee.

Faye is the Global Head of Human Resources, Avaya. Faye is responsible for leading Avaya’s HR team, which includes strategic HR planning; mergers and acquisitions; international resource planning; new business and geographic expansion; and talent recruitment, engagement, development & retention. Faye joined Avaya from Wyndham Hotel Group, a division of Wyndham Worldwide, where she served as executive vice president of HR. During her 16 years at Wyndham, Faye held several leadership positions including executive vice president and vice president of HR for Wyndham Destination Network. Prior to joining Wyndham, Faye held various HR roles at RS Components. Faye is a native of the U.K. and studied Human Resources at the University of Northampton, U.K.

Thank you so much for doing this with us Faye! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I hadn’t planned on having a career in HR. All I really knew was that I wanted to have the opportunity both personally and professionally to strategize, create and grow. More than that, I wanted to really understand how business worked from the inside out. Growing up, I traveled a lot. So much so that travel would ultimately impact my growth and evolution in every aspect of my life.

Travel has been and continues to be one of my greatest inspirations. It’s opened my mind to new cultures; helped me create more meaningful relationships; forced me to develop skills I didn’t know I had; and given me a stronger sense of humility, purpose, perspective and gratitude for my own life and opportunities.

I attribute my sense of wanderlust and my desire to build a business from the inside out as the main contributors that brought me to a career in HR.

Can you share the most interesting or funny story that happened to you since you started this career? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Early on in my career, I was working for a global hospitality company and was given the opportunity to relocate to Australia. Having traveled the world as a child, I was always taught to be nimble and adapt so the move itself was seamless; however, I stepped into the role during a period of significant change for the company and their employees.

To this end, my immediate priority was to build organizational capability within all the geographic areas to help reposition the company for growth and success. In the shortest of timeframes, I rolled up my sleeves and began learning as much as I could about the business strategy and the existing capabilities of the organization. It was during this process I became more aware of the broad view the HR function of the company offered of the business. More than that, I realized I loved having the opportunity to influence strategy and make people’s working lives better in both small and big ways. My “aha” moment was immediate: HR was the place that I could make a difference.

Are you working on any exciting new projects at your company? How is this helping people?

I am extremely proud and excited about a newly launched project that is growing and evolving and is designed specifically to help better prepare those entering the workforce.

Avaya Academy is an immersive development program for new hires in customer-facing functions to prepare them with exceptional training, advanced industry knowledge, and a customer-focused mindset as they enter the field. The first complete year of the program culminated in October 2018 with 50 graduates who now sit in sales, account management, service, and other customer-facing roles. Additionally, there are another 50 people in the current Avaya Academy program. My team and I have also worked to expand the program to include a vast array of skills in the tech space.

The Avaya Academy expands the scope of work and responsibility of entry-level positions, creating a better end-to-end experience for new staff members, the organization, and the overall customer experience that will propel the company and its partners into the future. Additionally, new hires are connected to experienced colleagues from around the world who work to mentor them, demonstrating how to build customer and partner relationships.

Impressive! Absolutely love to hear about companies investing in the education and support of their employees. Now let’s jump into the main focus of our series. With so much noise and competition out there, what are the top 3 ways to attract and engage the best talent in an industry when they haven’t already reached out to you?

There is a lot of noise and competition out there to attract, hire and engage the best talent across all industries. I believe the best ways to accomplish this goal is to:

  1. Understand from a qualitative and quantitative standpoint what fundamentally drives, motivates, inspires and engages your employees. You have to truly know what makes your workplace work well and make the right investments to find this information out.
  2. Put employees first — even before customers. That feels like a bold statement to many at first glance but the reality is that when you put your employees first, you are essentially putting the customer first in the long run. Employees are the face to your customers. They’re your brand. Treat them poorly and they, in turn, will treat your customers poorly but treat them well and they become the biggest asset to your business.
  3. I think about successful employee engagement as having five core pillars that work in unison. If you’re not addressing the whole, you will not solve your engagement problem. Leaders from the top down must commit to making each pillar part of the employee experience, and that commitment must be evident in every action, interaction, transaction and reaction across the organization.

In a people first company, employees experience the following:

  • Purpose: My company and the work I do have meaning and impact.
  • Connection: My leaders listen, understand, and care about my needs and challenges.
  • Trust: I feel trusted, empowered, and supported to make the right decisions.
  • Learning: My company is invested in my personal and professional development.
  • Gratitude: I feel recognized and appreciated for my contributions.

By evolving to this people-first model, leaders will create a culture that combines customer experience and employee engagement in a way that strengthens the brand, attracts top talent, and inspires innovation, continuous learning, collaboration, creativity and inclusion across the company.

In your experience, is it important for HR to keep up with the latest trends? Can you give some examples of what this looks like?

It is critical for HR to keep up with the latest trends. AI is a great example of this. AI is a part of our world now and to have a competitive advantage when attracting talent, the use of it by HR sends a message that we are very much in the game and on the cutting edge as far as people leadership is concerned.

AI can also provide HR with direct employee feedback as it pertains to the hiring process. This will enable HR to see inefficiencies in real time so that they can refine any necessary steps or protocols that aren’t running as smoothly as it should be. Lastly, AI can also assist HR teams with gathering data sets that can help identify work styles and personality traits that will allow for matching new employees with managers and teams that best align with their strengths and therefore feel more comfortable and engaged in their work.

Can you give an example of a creative way to increase the value provided to employees without breaking the bank?

Providing a path forward and a safe support network to allow employees to take the path, even the one less traveled. Knowing there is room for creativity, is very attractive in a world where each new generation challenges the status quo. Allowing creativity offers opportunity to make a difference and be successful. Mentoring and coaching programs, for example, can offer this and don’t have to break the bank to be implemented and be meaningful for both parties involved.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I came, I saw, I made everyone uncomfortable — no idea who said this, but I love it. Only when people are outside of their comfort zone do they learn and experience new aspects of what they are capable of. For me, this meant taking on new opportunities in new countries that would provide development both personally and professionally.

That quote is so good! To our final question: Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private lunch with, and why?

I would appreciate meeting Dwayne Johnson. To me, Dwayne symbolizes someone who had defined a path for himself (the NFL) but because of injury had to change course. Through leveraging his strengths, literally, and demonstrating sheer tenacity and self-determination has become one of the most recognized celebrities in the world. This is a great example of recognizing how to leverage opportunities that present themselves to you, even if they are not what you expected, as you never know where it might lead.

Thank you so much for your time and for providing these valuable insights!

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