Courtney Underwood has 18 years in human resources and leadership development under her belt. With this experience, she has gained a unique understanding of the challenges faced by companies during hiring and managing employees. This understanding also gives her the skill needed to overcome these challenges.
As an HR Alignment Strategist, Courtney Underwood shows her clients that assembling and deploying an effective team can contribute greatly to maximum growth and sustainable profitability that all companies want. After spending close to 20 years in the field, helping out companies in diverse fields, she realized that a certain audience needed her services the most.
That audience, for Courtney Underwood, is the entrepreneurs who want to build a good and solid business foundation from the get-go. To this end, she founded Kassar Consulting so that she could help out entrepreneurs and business leaders overcome the challenges in managing people and growing their bottom line.
Courtney Underwood boasts of several specializations. As an HR strategist, her expertise lies in Screening and Selection, Onboarding and Orientation, Performance Management, Employee Engagement and Retention, and Policies and Procedures.
Through her work, Courtney Underwood wants her clients to understand the value of human resources. For her, “you cannot dominate the marketplace without first mastering the workplace.”
Check out more interviews with business experts here. You can also watch Courtney Underwood explain the importance of building an effective team here.
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?
Courtney Underwood: Thank you for this opportunity — I’m excited to share more about the business of people! I majored in Organizational Communication in college, where I was introduced to the connections between healthy communication and thriving companies. Those concepts drew me to the field of Human Resources and Leadership Development, and I dedicated my career to helping people feel understood and empowered in the workplace. The field of Human Resources is vast, and I’ve held roles that span the breadth of what it covers: Recruiting, Onboarding, Performance Management, Engagement and Retention, and Policies and Procedures. After spending 18 years in the industry, I founded Kassar Consulting to serve on a larger level, providing companies with the resources, tools and strategies I developed to effectively build and manage their teams.
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?
Courtney Underwood: When I first founded Kassar Consulting, I spent too much time working with entrepreneurs who only cared about filling gaps in their business. They only saw staff as a means to an end, and I quickly discovered that it wasn’t the right fit for my philosophy. I had to make the difficult decision to end those working relationships, and stand firm in my people-centric approach.
I never considered giving up, because I knew that the cost of quitting was too great. My drive was fueled by knowing that I had a solid team that supported our work, and incredible client success stories that demonstrated our impact. This motivated us to push through.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
Courtney Underwood: When I first started out, I conducted an HR Audit for a large client, diving deep into their culture and policies to assess their organizational health. Part of this audit included interviewing current staff members. There was one staff member in particular that was so eager to conduct our interview, she arrived to the meeting half an hour early! Before we even got acquainted, she went straight into listing her grievances with leadership, some over a year old. After covering everything from the CEO failing to return a borrowed pen to not having an office with east-facing windows, I politely asked her if she ever brought up these issues to anyone prior to our session. She was silent for a while, then quietly responded, “I didn’t know that I could. Before you came, I didn’t think anyone cared”. The major takeaway from that conversation was that by listening to what most would consider to be a list of petty and spiteful grudges, I was able to uncover a huge red flag that was later echoed by others within the organization. That meeting definitely went over our scheduled time, and I later learned to set boundaries, but it taught me the power of paying attention.
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.
Courtney Underwood: My recommendations are below:
- Be selective. When delegating, choose the person that is actually skilled enough to do it. Sounds simple, right? That’s not what usually happens. Most often, leaders delegate to whoever has the free time or whoever they have an established rapport with. These characteristics are all secondary to who is actually qualified to take on the task.
- Provide context. Make sure that you take time to explain how the task or project fits into the overall big picture, why the outcome matters, and why they were chosen to complete it. Quite often, the end result is better than expected because the person completing the task now knows exactly what you need, and can use the full breadth of their talents to provide it to you.
- Confirm and review. When delegating a task or project, you should come to the meeting prepared with an idea of the resources they need to get it done, a clear picture of the end result, and a deadline. After reviewing all of that information, the natural conclusion is to ask the team member, “Do you have any questions?”. Practically every employee will tell you that there aren’t any questions, even if they are still confused or unsure. No one wants to appear as if they weren’t paying attention or as if they’re incompetent. A better way to address this issue is to ask the team member to share a summary of the meeting in their words. That way, you can discover any knowledge gaps before they become bigger problems.
- Focus on outcomes. The goal of effective delegation is the outcome — work done that meets or exceeds expectations. If you delegate the “what”, but micromanage the “how”, then how much time, money and effort are you really saving? For example, many of my clients point to graphic design as a great delegation opportunity. However, if they’re dictating the programs and the methods to use to arrive at the final product, then they might as well continue to do it themselves. As long as the final design meets expectations and can be used correctly, nitpicking the creation process is not the best use of time. Focus on outcomes.
- Get feedback. Sincerely expressing appreciation for a job well done is just as important as identifying opportunities for improvement. Of course, feedback should not just flow in one direction. This is a prime opportunity to learn if you provided enough context, resources, support and information to paint a picture of what successful task completion looked like. Additionally, you will be able to quickly find out if you’re assigning items to the right members of the team.
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?
Courtney Underwood: This saying is absolutely false because it diminishes the contributions of the experts that are positioned to serve and scale your business. The truth is that there are others that can do many of the things you do better, thereby freeing you to work on the thing that you do best. If you’re blind to that, you will never let go of the good in order to be great.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Courtney Underwood: You can find me at www.kassarconsulting.com where I share further details on how to work with me, articles to support leadership development, and resources to thrive in these newly challenging times.
You can also follow me on Facebook or Instagram at @kassarconsulting where I share regular live broadcasts, Q & A sessions and content on effective hiring best practices.
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!
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