I had the pleasure of interviewing Robin Throckmorton.
Robin is the President and Founder of strategic HR inc. where she brings nearly 30 years of human resources experience in healthcare, manufacturing, service, and non-profit organizations creating solutions to help them recruit, retain, and develop the best and the brightest employees. Robin provides a wide range of outsourced HR support in the areas of Strategy, Recruitment, Training & Development, Benefits & Compensation, Communications, Employee Relations, Record keeping & Legal Compliance, and Health, Safety & Security.
As a business owner and experienced human resources professional herself, Robin has a deep understanding and empathy for the challenges that business owners and HR professionals face. She is able to leverage her unique experience to connect with and customize the best solutions for clients.
Robin is the co-author of Bridging the Generations Gap and author of Critical Touch Points of Recruitment. She is a frequent speaker for professional associations and conferences on the topics of generational differences, retention, recruitment strategies, and labor trends. Robin has been an adjunct faculty member of the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University.
Robin holds a BS from Purdue University in Management and a Master of Arts in Labor and Employment Relations from the University of Cincinnati. She is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) by the National Human Resources Certification Institute and SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) by the Society of Human Resource Management.
Robin is committed to giving back through community involvement as she regularly volunteers for advisory and leadership roles to help serve the human resources profession and broader community. Robin has served on the Board of Trustees and Personnel Committee for the Council on Aging, Southwest Ohio Region Workforce Investment Board, Clermont Chamber of Commerce Board, and as a founder and Board Advisor for Greater Cincinnati’s GETDOT.
Robin’s personal mission is to guide herself and others to obtain happiness and success across both their professional and personal lives. She threads her personal mission through the operations of strategic HR inc. clients and employees.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Twenty-five years ago, the stars were perfectly aligned for me to start strategic HR inc. I grew up in a family-owned business, which instilled that passion for entrepreneurship in me from the beginning. In my last “real job”, while I was completing my Masters in Human Resources, one of my professors urged me to consider consulting, and I was asked to write a voluntary reduction-in-force package that would entice someone like me to take it. Note, I was working at an environmental cleanup facility where we were essentially working ourselves out of a job. Oh, and did I mention I was 8 months pregnant? Needless to say, I did take the voluntary reduction-in-force offer and had my first client within just a few months. Twenty-five years later, I’ve never looked back and continued to move forward with a thriving business.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
When I first launched strategic HR inc., I actually obtained my first client by responding to a job ad in the newspaper. When I met with the VP of HR, I actually told him that I wasn’t interested in the job at hand but a slightly different one. In the end, he did hire me for the job posted AND what I wanted to do for them — which resulted in a business relationship that has lasted for over 20 years. Responding to a job posting in the newspaper is the last place I’d ever tell someone to help start their business, but keeping all your options open and speaking honestly helps build business relationships.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
I absolutely love Cameron Herold’s book Double Double: How to Double Your Revenue and Profit in 3 Years or Less. I first heard him speak at a Vistage annual conference. I could not take notes fast enough from all the great information he was sharing. It actually motivated me to read a book — his! I never have time to read for pleasure, let alone for business. The only way I was able to even find the time was to isolate myself on an island and read. Well, I didn’t make it to a “true” island but went to our condo in Siesta Key, FL and read the book cover to cover with lots of pages folded over and highlights.
The premise behind Cameron’s book is with the right planning, you can double your business’s revenues in just three years. The plan starts with your “Painted Picture” (or “Vivid Vision”) of what your business will look like in 3 years — youo need to visualize what you want your future to look like. To get our whole team engaged and motivated around this concept, we held our staff meeting at one of those “anyone can paint this” stores. Mind you, I do not have those creative juices. But through the exercise of painting our 6 core values on sign posts, and the conversations that ensued from these paintings, we were able to appreciate how each individual’s painting was similar yet different — which added even more value to the exercise.
Following the painting, I shared my learnings from Double Double and what I wanted us to do as a business. We worked diligent that afternoon mapping out what strategic HR inc. would look like in three years when we were double; we created our painted picture. Each year thereafter, we set specific goals to help us meet that painted picture and actually did double our business in just three years, which lead to being recognized by Inc. 5000 fastest growing businesses in the US in both 2017 and 2019.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
When I started strategic HR inc., my vision was to help the smaller businesses build or acquire the tools and resources to attract and retain talented workers. What I didn’t realize until much later into the life of strategic HR inc. was that my true mission was to help myself and others to obtain happiness and success across both their professional and personal lives. With each business we help, I smile knowing we have helped that business obtain happiness and success through the strategies we provided and implemented to help them attract and retain a competitive workforce.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
My personal mission is to guide myself and others to obtain happiness and success across both their professional and personal lives. This really helps guide me on a regular basis when trying to make the right decisions on running the business. Plus, my other key principle is “paying it forward.” Doing what is right for the client regardless of what it is will bring rewards in the long run as clients will refer business to you.
Thank you for all that. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share with our readers a few of the personal and family related challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Given the many challenges that I’ve seen others navigate throughout the pandemic, I don’t feel that I have challenges — rather, I have opportunities. For example, my daughter is at high risk of getting COVID-19, but lived over a 9-hour drive from us. Right before the Stay-At-Home orders went into effect, we were able to fly to her and drive her and her 8-week-old puppy back to stay with us through the closure. While we’ve had our moments, I recognize that it’s been a gift to have both my adult children home under one roof. I’ll cherish this time together forever.
Can you share a few of the biggest work-related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
As a business owner, I’ve faced many of the same challenges other businesses are facing. Our services are business to business, so when other businesses are struggling so are we. Our “billable” work has dropped significantly since April 1st and likely won’t pick back up for a few more months. And, I am determined to keep our team intact to the best of my ability.
Instead, we’ve focused our time on helping other businesses navigate through the HR challenges that COVID-19 has causes. From an HR side, our world has turned upside down a dozen times, with constant change and little clarity on many of the key issues facing businesses (i.e. FFCRA, CARES). We’ve been very focused on understanding each change and the impact it has on businesses. We’ve tried to be a go-to resource to help others navigate the impact to their time through an HR Hotline, as well as weekly COVID-related webinars. Plus, we’ve created numerous tools that not only help us, but also help others such as our Employer Response to Exposure / Symptoms Chart and Employee Refusal to Work Chart and more. This has helped keep our team busy but also allows them to use their talents to help others as much as possible.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the corona-virus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. What are a few ideas that you have used to offer support to your family and loved ones who were feeling anxious? Can you explain?
In a time like this, we have to stick together. For most of my family, we’ve been able to take advantage of tools like Facebook Portal, Face time, Zoom, and more to be able to talk face-to-face. It definitely doesn’t replace literal face-to-face time but definitely has helped. Plus, just sharing with each other and relating to one another on some of the same challenges makes us feel closer.
The biggest challenge has been with my 98-year-old grandmother. She’s in an assisted living facility in Florida and they are doing a great job taking care of everyone. But, try to explain to someone at 98 why they can’t leave and why nobody can visit them for months — with limited change in sight. With aging dementia, you have to repeat the story quite bit. We’ve called on our patience and tried to help her understand what’s going on outside of her “home”. Plus, we’ve stayed connected by phone, sending cards, and even sending flowers or special desserts. The hardest part is just not being able to see her and knowing this could last longer than her is tough.
Obviously we can’t know for certain what the Post-Covid economy will look like. But we can of course try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that the Post-Covid economy will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet at the same time the Post-Covid growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the Post-Covid economy?
We went into COVID-19 in a booming economy with a labor shortage. Post-COVID, we will see this return eventually. But it will be different — some businesses will be permanently closed, others smaller in size, and some with reduced services. We will still be short key skills and need to help those impacted retrain for new careers.
How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act or live?
As with many dramatic events in our history, we are going to see people focus more and more on today and making sure they are doing what they want to do while they can.
Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the Post-Covid economy, what do you personally plan to do to rebuild and grow your business or organization in the Post-Covid Economy?
In the midst of COVID, we as a team already were making plans for what we need to do to continue to rebuild and grow our business. To begin with, we made sure we kept up to date with the constant changes in laws and recommendations. We made ourselves available to help our clients navigate the impact COVID had on their workplaces. But we also coached over 200 businesses on the issues they were facing with COVID — furlough, layoff, return to work, exposure and more. In addition, we focused on creating tools and resources to help our clients post-COVID — succession planning, business assessments reflecting on lessons learned, changes in policies and tools to navigate the new world.
Similarly, what would you encourage others to do?
One of the most critical resources for any business is the “human” aspect of “human resources”. It is important to recognize what your employees have been through during COVID-19 and are still facing day-to-day. Show empathy and support to employees as much as possible. Businesses will need to focus on how they will re-recruit their employees to ensure all employees will come back and will stay with you in the long-term. The biggest key to all of this is communication. You cannot over-communicate in this situation, as ensuring employees feel confident and “in the loop” with what’s going on and how it impacts them is crucial.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then you are an excellent leader.” — Dolly Parton
This quote aligns well with my own mission — to guide myself and others to obtaining happiness and success across both their professional and personal lives. With every client we work with and every network contact I make, I offer to help them in any way I can to succeed.
How can our readers further follow your work?
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