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Opinion

VaynerMedia’s Claude Silver: Putting the ‘heart’ in HR

VaynerMedia’s Chief Heart Officer creates a winning culture

Claude Silver

Chief Heart Officer

Unleash Your PeopleThe worlds’ first ever Chief Heart Officer, Claude Silver from VaynerMedia, fuses empathy with agency to unlock employee potential and foster a culture of belonging. Every month Claude will share her stories and insights from the HR front line with UNLEASH.

  • HR is about putting people first. To do that you have to put your heart into it.
  • Feedback is a gift. Give it with clarity, specifics, kindness and make it actionable.
  • The current job market means you have to work harder (and possibly pay more) for the right candidate.

Igot into HR because I believed in putting people first. As HR leaders our entire ethos, and really what we’re built on, is ensuring the people are always at the forefront. You have to have that real empathy and action in the workplace.

As children we were taught that if we “don’t have anything nice to say about someone don’t say anything at all.”

We’ve carried that into our working worlds in the most literal of ways which has caused us to shy away from hard conversations and “keep cool”. The thing is, as mindful leaders it’s our responsibility to provide clear feedback to our teams. 

VaynerMedia Claude Silver
Claude Silver writes for UNLEASH

FEEDBACK IS KEY

This is what cultivating a growth culture through HR is all about – creating an environment where learning, failing, risk taking is appreciated, and feedback is seen as a gift, not a gut punch. 

Feedback is a gift. Give it with clarity, specifics, kindness and make it actionable. No need to tippy toe if you come from the heart and have their growth in mind.  This is not about you, this is about THEM. We call this “kind candor”.

HR NEEDS KINDNESS

I believe in kindness and compassion, always being the bigger person, turning others into champions with a growth mindset.

Kindness is who we are at our core in the cultures I cultivate. The candor is the move we are making to really be honest with one another.

Without the candor part we just praise and praise which creates a bit of a delusion and entitlement and never assists that person in their growth and development. Candor is kind. Candor is the gift. 

COOL HR TECH

HiBob is a people management software. As a piece of HR tech it is extremely intuitive. It’s beautiful to look at. It’s very Instagrammable. We have so many generations in the workplace today, the majority at our company are between 26-34yrs old. They want something nice to look at and HiBob has that appeal as a tool. The other thing I like about HiBob is that they’re growing with us as a business. When we asked if they could help with a D&I dashboard, they said yes and they’re working with us to build one that works. They also have a Slack and ADP integration….And so right now, it’s becoming that one stop shop that I wanted.

DIVERSITY IS HERE

DE&I is a huge priority for us. Our first ever Chief Diversity Officer starts this summer and I’m so excited. It took me almost a year to find the right person for our company and our culture.

She, Gary Vaynerchuk (Our CEO) and I fly wingtip to wingtip together. There is so much to do, and it’s a marathon, not a sprint. She will have a 3 month plan, a year plan, a three year plan and so on, focusing on education, wrapping her arms around our employee resource groups, thought leadership in new business pitchers, looking at our supplier diversity and creating a strong recruitment and retention strategy that dovetails with what we have already built. I am so happy to have her there on the C-suite with us making an impact.

HIRING SUCCESS

I must have met 65 people on Zoom for the Chief diversity Officer role. I probably passed maybe 20 of them through to next stage interviews, and honestly I didn’t know what I was looking for, until I started to have more and more and more conversations.

I thought it was really important to find someone that spoke agency language. One of the things that works for me in this role of Chief Heart Officer is that I was on the agency floor for almost 18 years. So I understand the business of an advertising agency, I understand the review cycles, I understand what creatives are like, I understand what it’s like when there’s “scope-creep” from a client. I understand that. It’s accelerated for me, I speak the language already. It was very important for us to find someone who spoke the language as well. We needed someone who understood our business as they walked in, and I was looking for energy, someone that had a spark.

I was looking for a builder, and someone that could lead very, you know, senior teams and senior conversations and client conversations. And I was looking for someone who wasn’t afraid to roll up their sleeves. When I found that person, I got very excited for what I know they can achieve in this role.  

JOB MARKET

The state of the current job market comes with a mix of anxiety and propaganda. But I do have an incredible trust that we will get the right candidates in the door, we will get the people that really want to work with us in the door.

That may mean the salaries are higher, that may mean that our HR team are looking under rocks, and then cracks and looking in places that we normally wouldn’t work, look. And you know what? That’s the right thing to do. Because that’s also how we’re going to find people that aren’t like us that come from diverse backgrounds and cultures, that think differently, that come to us with all kinds of gifts that maybe we would miss, if we were going to those same universities or those same media companies.

It does feel more challenging to build a pipeline right now, but we don’t have to live in fear that we won’t get where we want to go. Fear is not more powerful than we are.

Outside of VaynerMedia, Claude Silver speaks globally about the need for heart-leadership in today’s workplace and the importance of treating “employees” like people, not numbers. Her success guiding client relationships, global brand strategies, operations, management, and culture is driven by an abiding passion for creating spaces in which people can thrive. Connect with Claude on LinkedIn here.

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