Month: August 2023

Rip off the Band-Aid and Have the Hard Conversation: Michael

Rip off the Band-Aid and Have the Hard Conversation: Michael

HR leaders have difficult conversations, around an incredible range of topics “It would just be easier to say, we don’t want you around than to say, hey, I need you to wear a bra to work.”

Welcome to True Stories at Work, where we discuss the best things about working in Human Resources. The people, the stories, and the things that happen at work that we didn’t know even about… workplace confessions!

I’m a recovering HR executive, certified coach, and business school professor who knows that THE BEST stories happen at work, from heartbreaking to heartwarming, from hilarious to outrageous.

In a past role, I was a member of a magical HR executive committee, pulled together by a Group Purchasing Organization to represent a variety of members from each region of the country.… and I loved going to the meetings to connect with them, learn what they were doing, and hear their great stories! Today, you get to meet Michael, who was a member of that executive committee.

You will get to hear his journey into and out of HR. As an attorney, he shares “The importance of ripping off the Band-Aid and having difficult conversations, even when they are uncomfortable” and even when they don’t go as planned.  “It’s actually hard to do the things when you’re in the moment and experiencing it as a human as well”

He shares a story that demonstrates the impact that subtle, non-verbal behaviors can have on feelings and perceptions “even if I’m not saying it, or even if it’s not intentional, simply the, the chair I pick is sending a message.”

The approach he took to teaching people how to treat his HR team, and how he reinforced  “that HR is not just a punching bag”.

Micheal shares a great practice to keep your leadership team connected to the people in your company who are impacted by your decisions “It’s easy to start thinking about people as simply numbers or FTEs as opposed to remembering that real people are losing their jobs, and those are having real impacts on their life.”

At the end, you get to hear a workplace confession, something that happened at work that never made it through the doors of HR. This one is about me… a director sharing a story about me that he wanted to confess on my behalf, how generous!

Curious about how to improve your skills with difficult conversations?

Here are some links to get started:

How to Handle Difficult Conversations Gracefully | Psychology Today

Things to Do Before a Difficult Conversation (HBR)

How to Create a Strong Culture (

Stories are what we remember and how we connect, so please share yours with me

Let’s talk about your people strategy

Tell a story!

Make a Workplace Confession

Haiku for Michael

Michael knows that growth,

Requires difficult words to…

Be shared with kindness.

#HumanResources #Podcast #TrueStoriesAtWork

#Career #Culture

Don’t Be Afraid to Follow Your Passion: Aileen

Don’t Be Afraid to Follow Your Passion: Aileen

In this episode of True Stories at Work, we introduce you to Aileen, who has spent the majority of her career in Talent Acquisition at a professional services firm and is now a career coach. Join us as we share true stories about following your passion, networking into the best jobs, and the importance of taking career risks.

Aileen graduated college with aspirations to become a Russian-speaking foreign policy expert (and maybe even high potential Karaoke-queen) but accidentally entered HR after hating her first job as a technology data analyst.

She started her HR career in executive search, which she describes as “an amazing training ground.  You’re basically thrown to the wolves.”

Aileen shares how she successfully networked her way into HR at a professional service firm (twice) and her favorite stories about:

  • the importance of taking risks in your career journey, personal + client, and the value of networking
  • how searching for a job is like dating
  • how important it is to be aware of and overcome unconscious bias to hire the BEST talent.

Aileen has taken big career risks, even fulfilling her calling to become a Chicago Public School teacher, for one year… wait until you hear what she saw when she saw happening behind her back in her classroom when she reviewed her Student Teaching video! “I could review my own video. So that night I brought it home and reviewed it and saw it and I was like, oh my gosh, I think I’m gonna get an F on this video.”

Aileen encourages you to follow your passion and energy to find the job you LOVE. “Don’t be afraid to follow your passions. Don’t think that it’s just a nice to have, or it’s, it’s a dream job. It’ll never come true. It is possible. You just have to be thoughtful.”

At the end, you will hear my workplace confession, the biggest thing that I did wrong at work… which I still believe was right in the end. It is a story of insubordination in my quest to update our dusty and dated values, and how I took a big risk to ask for forgiveness, not permission. And how no one even noticed?!

Resources Suggested Aileen

Curious about how Aileen preps her clients and some of her favorite job search tools? Check out these links to get started:

  • Create an elevator speech + have 3-4 behavioral interview stories, check out this resource to set you up for interview storytelling success.
  • Optimize your resume with .
  • Best job boards for seekers: LinkedIn and BuiltIn.
  • Want to reflect on what career path makes sense, check out – which is a free Myers Briggs resource.
  • Or contact Aileen directly at

Stories are what we remember and how we connect, so please share yours with me!

Let’s talk about your people strategy

Tell a story!

Make a Workplace Confession

Drop Your Wisdom

Connect on Linked In.

Listen to the show



Aileen takes her own

Career advice by choosing

Work that brings her joy!