#SHRM21 Interview with Tina Marie Wohlfield, SHRM-SCP

I am so excited to speak with Tina Marie Wohlfield, Founder and Chief People Strategist, TIMAWO, LLC, and hear more about her SHRM21 session, which shares the same title as her book, "Stop, Collaborate and Listen! Mastering Strategic HR Through the Art of Collaboration"

The session will take place Friday, September 10, at 4:00 p.m. PT in room W216-218 and is available for virtual attendees as well.  

Mary: Tina Marie, what drove you to write the book, and what was the defining moment that prompted this topic for you to educate us on mastery of the art of collaboration?  What's the STORY behind the story?

Tina Marie: This book was written for HR therapy. It is a reflection on my HR journey of successes and pitfalls in navigating some of the challenges we face in HR. The experiences and challenges I encountered in building strategic relationships were mostly due to prior experiences or HR past encounters that created hesitancy or skepticism.  The trigger for many of my challenges has been due to prior negative HR interactions (stakeholders have had internally or in other organizations) or situations where HR is unwilling to be flexible or approach things from the stakeholder perspective. 

That aha moment for me was inspired by a leader I was working with who said "you are not like the others, why can't all of HR be like this". I know I am not alone in my actions. Many of us approach delivery in a collaborative manner to find alternative solutions. If leaders don't feel or have faith that HR can be a proactive strategic partner as a whole, we have to change that perspective. I was inspired to share my story to highlight opportunities at every level of HR to have influence and build collaborative partnerships; changing that negative image and creating a new legacy that we are better (when we work) together. 

Mary: HR can sometimes have a reputation for being isolated, aloof information hoarders, and the department of "no." Sometimes referred to as the "Policy Police" or the "Principal's Office".  What are some tips for HR professionals to effectively engage with organizational goals and initiatives to be a strategic business partner? 

Tina Marie:  We as HR professionals need to be better listeners. Have you ever been in a meeting where someone hears something and automatically respond with an answer before you are able to understand the entire contact of the situation or skips right over important details because they were doing 20 things at once? The biggest way to build trust is to be present which entails active listening.  We often do not realize we are not "in the moment" and jump to the easiest and quickest solution which may or may not be the best solution. If we listen and acknowledge what is being said (even if we don't agree with it or you don't think it pertains to HR); we can better address or identify collaborative ways to engage our stakeholders and not just hide behind a policy or process. I share some great examples in my session and my book about how to use that skill to build partnerships. 

Mary: How do you explain and define COLLABORATION?

Tina Marie: Great question Mary! I define collaboration like GPS (Google maps/Waze) as it allows us to see the potential of alternative ideas, solutions, thoughts, and perspectives. Collaboration leads to ideation, connection, and inclusion when we are open and accepting that our way may not be the only way. 

Mary: Growing up, my dad used to ask us at the dinner table, "What's the most important thing?" and we'd answer, "communication." Can you elaborate a bit about some of the effective communication techniques you will be sharing?

Tina Marie: Communication is a powerful tool (or barrier) in everything we do in HR. We have our own language in HR and assume everyone understands what we are saying and that can get lost in translation. It's not what we say, but how we say it. I am a mom of two boys (one a teen and the other soon to be here in a few months). If you ask them about "things I learned from my HR mom about communication" they will tell you to be aware of "the tone and manner" in how we communicate. For HR pros like us, sometimes that tone can be a barrier or interpreted as we are not open to collaboration, working with you, or annoyed because of "employee interruptus." Just because it makes sense to you, always look at how your message may (or may not) be perceived. 

Mary: I see that you're also participating in a Networking Peer Group Ideas Swap networking event on Friday, September 10- tell us about that... What's the format? 

Tina Marie: This is going to be #HRAwesome for everyone attending this year including those joining virtually! SHRM has created 10 main industry peer groups this year and is hosting live virtual networking sessions (for those attending from anywhere) to allow us to network, connect and chat! So if you are someone like me that has worked in a niche or growing industries that don't fit into one of the other nine categories, join me at noon pst (3 p.m. ET) on Friday, September 10 for a virtual chat with me and other virtual attendees. ALL are welcome (aka you don't have to be an "other industry" HR pro to join us! I can't wait to meet you!  

Mary:  Thank you so much for taking the time to chat a bit about #SHRM21 and your sessions. Is there anything else you want to share or highlight?

Tina Marie:  You are truly #HRAwesome Mary!  Thank you to you and everyone on the #SHRM21Influencer team for getting me and everyone attending excited about this year's conference.   

About Tina Marie: Tina Marie Wohlfield is the founder and Chief People Strategist at TIMAWO (pronounced tee-ma-woe). She is a passionate champion of Human Resources, leadership, and talent management with over 25 years of experience in the Human Resources profession. 

Tina Marie is an active member of the HR community and a dedicated advocate for advancing the HR profession through collaboration, partnerships, and mentorship. In 2018 she co-founded HRUnite! a professional networking and advocacy community to support HR professionals. Her first book, STOP Collaborate and LISTEN – Developing Impactful HR Partnerships Through Collaboration is available through LuLu Publishing. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter


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