HR Thoughts with Maureen Crawford Hentz & Kage Spatz

HR Strategy Series, Real Human Resources

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A.W. Chesterton Company Human Resources Hiring Strategies

All the little things become the big thing, so the little things matter: in training, in conversation, in an HR practice, in a life.

As a part of my HR Strategy Series, I’m talking to top experts in the field to teach prospects what hiring managers are actually looking for, while also supporting business leaders in their hiring and retention strategies. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Maureen Crawford Hentz.

Maureen Crawford Hentz has more than 20 years of HR experience from Fortune 50 insurance & globally matrixed manufacturing behemoths to family-owned manufacturing companies & environmental non-profits. She is currently VP of Human Resources for a global manufacturing company in the US.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! First, please tell us what brought you to this specific career path?

Early in my career, I ran the volunteer and internship program at New England Aquarium. We grew the program to one of the largest and most diverse programs in the country. I figured that if I could recruit people who wanted to work 40 hours a week for free cutting up fish for the penguins and scrubbing marine mammal cages, I could recruit people to pay jobs as well. So I became a recruiter and then just kept growing my HR career from there. I can still do the Giant Ocean Tank talk from memory though.

Wonderful. With so much noise and competition out there, what are your top ways to attract and engage the best talent in an industry when they haven’t already reached out to you?

Simply, we go out looking. Our head of Talent Acquisition is a brilliant and talented seeker of talent. He’ll call anybody he thinks might be a good fit and if he can spend 5 minutes on the phone with them, can clearly articulate our value proposition as a company.

That’s the next way to engage with talent: a company has to be less myopic in the recruiting process, particularly in a great economy. Too many companies operate their recruiting function from a “weed out” mentality. Our recruiting function operates in the woo mentality. We know what employees find appealing about our company, and we articulate that clearly to potential employees. We talk to them about what is different about being here. And when we talk about it, people usually want to come and find out for themselves.

At our company, our Talent Acquisition and Talent Management teams are in the same group. The very first thing we do is look to who in our company is ready to do a stretch assignment, and then we go and talk to them about it. At our company, people go into development assignments to explore a new career or work on a project that is necessary for our business. The work is important and has goals and concrete objectives and deliverables. Here’ the thing though: sometimes the development assignment doesn’t work out. We find out the employee isn’t actually a great manager (yet) or doesn’t really like the job they thought they might. For us, no problem: they go back to their former role and maybe try something else later.

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I’ve spent a lot of time in the past several years talking and training about reducing barriers for neurodiverse candidates. The number of potential employees living with an Autism Spectrum Diagnosis is increasing and so many companies don’t realize that their interview processes can be (and are often) barriers to hiring this entire population of talented employees. We have to teach our recruiters and staff how to eliminate these barriers: by eliminating our reliance on what I call the Sparkle Factor, by ensuring that unconscious biases like confirmation bias & anchoring bias are called out and countered, and by understanding how accommodations can be effective. There’s so much more to talk about here, but I’ll leave it at that for now. People should call me to join the movement!

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

It’s a Japanese phrase, actually, that I use often in my trainings: chiri mo tsumoreba, yama to naru. It means even dust in time becomes a mountain. I think of it as all the little things become the big thing, so the little things matter: in training, in conversation, in an HR practice, in a life.

We are very blessed to have some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have a private lunch with, and why?

Well, I’m going to out myself as a true HR geek here, but I’d love to meet Craig Leen, DOL’s Director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. I have some ideas. He might not get a word in edgewise if we were to meet.

Thank you so much for these fantastic insights!

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