HR Executive

HR Executive


Seattle, WA

Female, 39

I'm the head of HR for a leading digital media company. I'm responsible for making my company an amazing place to work - or at least I'll go down trying! In short, I set the strategic direction for the HR function of the organization. I wear many hats: member of the executive team, confidant and advisor to my peers regarding people matters, as well as an advocate for all people that work hard to make our products great. People are what make organizations tick, and my job is to empower them all.

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50 Questions


Last Answer on January 11, 2015

Best Rated

In your experience, which is more important: great upper management, or great middle maanagement?

Asked by Ghost Ryder over 6 years ago

That one is easy - great upper management. If you have awesome middle management, but the people that run the show are a-holes, you have no hope for a great workplace. At least with crappy middle managers, you can always go to the top for support and inspiration. And hopefully some timely "your fired!" comments...

I took a job recently, somewhat out of desperation. I learned pretty quickly after starting that I'm getting WAY underpaid relative to others at the same level. Is there anything I can do to correct the salary imbalance?

Asked by duped84 over 6 years ago

Well, you can address this - and you can do it in a way that is professional, positive and can hopefully lead to a good result. But in order to change things at your current company, you will need to ask for a change. The company was aware of the difference in pay when they made you the offer, and didn't correct it at the time. The ball is in your court. I would start by doing more homework. Write down what you know about your coworkers - also known as 'internal market data'. Then, I would check out some additional external sources, which will provide additional back up. I recommend and Sometimes, job posting sites such as or have salary information, but it is hit or miss. One note: many companies hate it that employees talk to each other about pay. However, this is your right - and the right of your coworkers. I would just be careful, as pay can be a very private subject for people. In other words, don't antagonize / piss off your coworkers asking them for pay information. That won't go over well, and disrupting the workplace can get you in trouble. Take all of this information and consolidate it down to some bullet points of what you have learned. I suggest also printing out the job descriptions and pay information from the websites you looked at. This demonstrates that you are looking at comparable jobs and not making stuff up. I would not, however, be very specific about who you spoke with internally. Again, people get uncomfortable with their own pay. I'd leave it fairly general, similar to how you've written it above. Then, prepare to talk. How you approach your boss is as important as the information you provide. In some cases, it might be a good idea to send an email before meeting face to face. This gives your manager time to do some homework. In terms of what to say, I recommend something along the following lines: * I'm enjoying my new role here as XXX. Hopefully you have found my contributions to date to be valuable to you and the team. (Fill in more appropriate 'I'm happy here, and I hope you are happy with me too' stuff as necessary.) * I do have a concern that I would like to discuss with you. Specifically, upon reflection, I feel that in negotiating my starting salary with you, I undervalued my skills and have done myself a disservice. * I've learned more about what my role is typically compensated at, both internal and external to the company. In both cases, the average is about XXXXX more than my pay. * I would like to discuss with you steps that can potentially be taken to remedy this. I'm open to finding a creative solution that works for both of us. * I've set time on our calendars on (fill in day here) for us to follow up. The second to last bullet point is an important one. Companies can be quite flexible when it comes to pay. Some may offer you a raise on the spot. Others might offer to revisit your salary after 3-6 months on the job. If that is the case, I would be very clear on what their expectations are of you so you can kill it. Some get super creative - how about a 4 day / 36 hour work week instead? Bottom line, the more flexible you are, the more likely you are to ultimately get what you want from this company in the long term. They can also say no. Or, they can say they will revisit it in a timeline that is not in line with yours. If that is the case, you could resume your job search on the side. It's not ideal, but at the same time, you have expressed what you need to be happy and your employer has decided to not to work with you to reach that happy place. I wouldn't advertise it, and I suggest being very thoughtful and picky now that you have a source of steady income. The end goal should be to find an employer who values you and your skills fairly.

What do you think about someone being sexually harassed by a Casino Host. As a guest, it was very upsetting and basically nothing was done when I made a formal complaint to the upper management (HR). Want to take legal action against Casino!!!

Asked by JDVegas almost 6 years ago

Lame - very lame. And, what's even worse, people typically don't act in a vacuum. If the host was awful to you, s/he likely was to other people as well.

Suing the company is where it gets a bit complicated. First, it depends on where you were that this happened. State laws tend to be a bit different when it comes to harassment law, with California being the strictest and easiest to pursue. It will also depend on the facts of the case. Was the host in a management position? How extreme was the incident? And, do you know for sure the company did nothing? Or, did they discipline the employee, but not make that known publicly - that is actually the typical response, due to privacy policies and laws.

If it were me, I'd actually look for resolution in a different manner - I would escalate the problem with the casino chain of management. I'd find the most senior executive I could, and reach out to them. Customer service organizations fear nothing more than an unhappy customer publicly denouncing services - and ruining their reputation in the process. It's like watching the news and the local customer protection reporter take on the case (in Seattle, we have "get Jesse") It's pretty amazing how quickly those situations seem to be resolved as soon as the story starts to go public. Much faster than a lawsuit, and cheaper than hiring a lawyer to be honest.




What would you say was your biggest HR blunder ever?

Asked by Aya! over 6 years ago

Ah, so many to choose from... and yet it always comes by to my dating life. It was quite embarrassing to tell my boss that the guy she needed me to fire was the same person I had broken up with two weeks before. And that was far more pleasant than the conversation with the guy. It went something along the lines of, "Remember how I told you it wasn't you, it was me? Well, I wasn't being completely honest. It really is you. And now (the company) is breaking up with you too."

If there's an African-American employee who's doing a poor job and needs to get canned, do you take extra precautions than if it were a white employee? And if he or she plays the race card, what do you do?

Asked by Aya! over 6 years ago

The short answers is no, I don't take extra precautions. Every employee in that situation should be treated fairly, regardless of any personal characteristics. Truth is, with the passage of many federal, state and local laws, just about any characteristic can be considered a 'protected category' - race, religion, national origin, age, gender, religion, military status, sexual orientation. If almost everyone falls into one or more protected categories, then is anyone really special? Hence my assertion that all employees who are going to be fired need to be treated fairly, consistently and with respect. Plus, it's the right thing to do. If someone raises a concern that they are not being treated fairly because of one of the above categories, then the company has an obligation to look into the concerns. Either HR, Legal or an outside investigator should talk with the employee, understand the issues, gather any additional information relevant to the situation, and make a determination if there is any discrimination occurring and, if so, if it is related to the employee's performance. What is found during that process guides next steps. If there is discrimination, then there are bigger issues than a non-performing employee. If not, then the issue of discrimination has been resolved and the performance process can continue forward.

Does Human Resources actually verify the education of job candidates?

Asked by Lucky777 about 6 years ago

They do - as part of the background check process, many companies verify degrees as well as former employers. It is actually typically an outsourced process - there are companies that all they do is pull background information on people for purposes of employment verification.

I've learned through the termination process of several employees that an executive manager in the company has referred to me as incompetent. My question is, how do I deal with this? This particular exec has said this about a large number of people.

Asked by Ed Hughes over 6 years ago

Well that's sucky. I'm sorry, dude - it sounds like you work with a real jerk. Without knowing the full context, it's a bit hard to give you specific advice. But here's the general gist of what I would do. First, can you talk to your boss or another senior trusted advisor about the situation? It would help to get some context and understanding. For example, are there specific situations from your past performance that is causing this person to say this? Or, is he just a jerk? And, do they have advice for you to address any true shortfalls? You want the lay of the land before doing what I recommend next. And that would be... decide if you want to address the executive manager directly. Many times, bullies are all for disparaging people in situations when they aren't going to be confronted. But when directly and calmly addressed by someone, they realize that they can't bully someone - and they respect boundaries. Think back to the bully stealing a kid's lunch money. He never picks on the kid that's going to push back. You can ask him what his legitimate concerns are with you and what you can do to address them. You can also ask him to direct any concerns with your performance either directly to you or your boss. Telling others, but not you, doesn't allow you the opportunity to fix any concerns. It just makes him a badmouthing ass. (Adjust language as appropriate to the situation.) Finally, if this executive manager behaves as an equal opportunity jerk, and the company decides to not address it, you might be in a situation where you need to decide if you can live with the situation as it is. If he does this to everyone, most people might just write him off as a jerk and ignore him. It does, however, demonstrate a lack of care and concern on behalf of your company. That would worry me more in the long run - it is worth it to work somewhere that people are allowed to behave that way? Maybe. It depends on what you get in return.