Interview: Julie Jensen, Founder of Moxie HR Strategies

Julie Jensen is a transformational HR consultant and founder of Moxie HR Strategies. As a consultant, she is dynamic and transformational, with significant “multi-site experience in small to large public and private sector organizations.” She has also built up a consistent track record of success as an “influential change agent and collaborative business partner.” She also enjoys a “solid reputation for building resilient and high performing teams, engaging stakeholders and rapidly executing comprehensive strategies with impeccable service delivery.”


Throughout her long career, Julie Jensen has built up specialties in diverse areas, which are “organizational design & effectiveness, strategy development, operational management, leadership coaching, succession planning, change management, culture transformations, employee engagement, performance management, acquisition integration, and talent management.”


As founder and principal of Moxie HR Strategies, Julie Jensen has shown great leadership as the company has grown its clientele to include companies of all sizes. Their clients include companies that employ 50 to 20,000 people, and that earn annual revenues between $5 million to $100 million. Moxie HR also serves clients across every industry, “providing smart solutions to growing business by creating human capital strategies that support key business objectives and ensure clients have the right organizational structure and talent, strong leadership now and into the future, and engaged and committed employees.”


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Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, 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?

Julie Jensen: When I transitioned my career into Human Resources, I was introduced to Organizational Development (OD). The framework of OD was innate to me: strategically thinking about current and future business needs and how people systems and programs needed to be designed to support the success of both the company and their employees. I was hooked immediately, and because I am a businesswoman first, who just happens to focus on the people side, I intentionally selected a variety of industries to work in over my career. I wanted exposure to different sized companies and the markets they serve, different leadership styles, and various human capital strategies to support business objectives. Fast forward 20 years later and I now own my own HR consulting practice where I apply what I have learned to help other growing businesses.

Jerome Knyszewski: Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

Julie Jensen: When someone is new to their chosen profession, there can be far too many assumptions made about all the things that need to be learned before one is viewed as capable and competent. That was no different for me when I entered Human Resources.

Yes, I had much to learn about labor laws and the technical constructs of Human Resources, but I was not exactly new to the workforce either. I had been in another profession for 15 years, so I had ‘real world’ experience working with teams and leaders, and I understood business. Yet my boss felt the need to remind me of all the things I still didn’t know. It was frustrating as heck to routinely be ‘put in my place’ and to have my previous experience dismissed.

After a year, I told my boss I was planning on sitting for my professional human resources certification in a few months. Instead of being met with words of encouragement, I was, instead, cautioned that the exam is difficult and to not feel bad if I end up failing it on my first attempt. Who says that?! Apparently, most of my co-workers had failed the exam one or more times and because they had much more experience in HR, the message was that I may not yet know enough to pass. This did not deter me. In fact, it lit a fire in me to prove their assumptions about my capabilities all wrong. I joined an intensive 8-week study group and dedicated hours at night and on the weekend to learning all I could. Not only did I pass the exam on my first attempt, but I chose to take the advance certification instead of the “entry level” one.

My boss and coworkers had lowered the bar on what they thought I was capable of. Therefore, if I failed the exam, nobody would be surprised, and I would not have to be embarrassed. Imagine their surprise when I told them I acquired a higher certification than they had. The lesson: Do not allow others to set limits or define what you are capable of!

Jerome Knyszewski: Can you please share your “Five Things You Need To Know To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results?” Please share a story or an example for each.

Julie Jensen: The secret, I believe, to delegation success is to be strategic and thoughtful at the beginning. This way, once delegation has occurred, the leader can get out of the way and watch the magic happen.

  1. Define the desired outcome and authority level. Learn to assign responsibility for achieving results rather than unloading tasks. Ask: What is the result I want to accomplish? What kind of decisions can be made autonomously? Who may need to know that this person has the authority to act to assure cooperation with the employee?

  2. Assign responsibility and identify time factors. Thoughtfully select the right person for the job. Next, identify key milestones and deadlines. Also set expectations for when you will want progress reports.

  3. Provide training and guidance. Identify all training or guidance that is needed to succeed. Remember to also allow the employee freedom for independent thinking and problem solving.

  4. Monitor progress and provide feedback. Pay attention to progress and maintain control of the situation without micromanaging. Managers are still responsible for the success or failure of this person and for achieving the desired results. Stay in touch, giving plenty of positive reinforcement and coaching when needed.

  5. Evaluate performance and identify lessons learned. Afterwards, give the employee helpful feedback. What did they do well? Where can they improve? How can the results be improved? Also, what can the manager do better in the future to help them succeed?

Jerome Knyszewski: One of the obstacles to proper delegating is the oft quoted cliche “If you want something done right do it yourself.” Is this saying true? Is it false? Is there a way to reconcile it with the importance of delegating?

Julie Jensen: Well, I think it all depends on what doing it ‘right’ means, but generally I think this is a statement of distrust more than anything.

If what you really mean is that you want something done “your way” and with no deviation from your perspective, then you may as well do it exactly as you want. But know that this is likely not the best use of your time. Nor does it develop other people’s skills or build your talent pipeline by telling someone what the ‘right way’ is and expecting them to follow your instructions to the letter.

Instead, be clear what you expect the outcome of a task to be, if there are specific criteria to follow, and when you need the task to be done. Also let people know you are available to assist them if they need it. This is especially important if you are delegating to someone new to the company or has otherwise had limited exposure or experience with the task. Then get out of the way and let people figure it out on their own.

I coach leaders on this all the time and it’s amazing how uncomfortable it can be to let go and trust that quality work will get done without the need to hover and control the process. In fact, I illustrate this point regularly by telling leaders that if I ask them to drive safely from Seattle to Boston in no more than 10 days, and they have X-number of dollars to cover gas, hotels, and meals, should I really care if they choose a southern route when I think the northern route is faster? If they get to Boston on time and within budget that is all I need to care about. They have met my expectations.

On the other hand, if they are two days late, racked up 3 speeding tickets, and used up the budget within a few days because they stayed at high-end hotels, that’s a performance issue, not a delegation problem, which should be addressed accordingly. Less-than-desirable results do happen from time to time, but not to the degree that people often fear. The key is in setting crystal clear expectations for what success looks like and then confirming that the person you have delegated to fully understands before they are set loose to execute.

Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?

Julie Jensen: Readers can find me and my blogs at http://www.moxiehrstrategies.com or they may follow me via my personal or company LinkedIn pages.

Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!



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