Business Unusual: Equity in the New Business Climate (Part 2)

Welcome to the second edition of our equity talk with Katie Augsburger of Future Work Design for our Business Unusual series! Watch the video below or scroll down to read the full interview transcription!

Jill McKenna:

I am so delighted to be with my friend, Katie Augsburger, today. I am Jill McKenna. I’m the campaign marketing manager at Ruby, and I’m talking to Katie Augsburger with Future Work Design. Katie is a founding partner at Future Work, and she has over 15 years of experience and is an HR expert and thought leader in the HR space.

Jill McKenna:

Katie, I’m going to let you talk about what Future Work does.

Katie Augsburger:

Hey, Jill. Thanks for having me in my basement. Future Work has been founded by three other women. We focus on strategy, customer experience, employee experience, and we center equity in those conversations and help organizations really rethink how they caretake for their customers and for their employees.

Jill McKenna:

Cool. One question I wanted to ask you is, you had mentioned organizational strategy. Beyond the obvious, which is work from home right now, which everybody’s obviously moving to, what other organizational strategies are you seeing come into play right now with the changing landscape?

Katie Augsburger:

Yeah, so I think, probably in January, everybody was working on their five-year vision and what is our strategy going to be for the new year, for the next three years? And by March, none of that seemed to matter, right? Like your strategy for a lot of organizations kind of got thrown out the window. And really, we shouldn’t let go of what we care about, what we value as an organization, but we should create some flexibility and some endurance and some resilience to change.

Katie Augsburger:

But what we thought was going to be really important earlier this year, is maybe not going to be as important going forward. Like, maybe we’re going to move to a shared desk space. That might not be a feasible thing, but what I am seeing is people starting to put a real focus in their strategy into equity. Focus on equity, focusing on how we create better health benefits. How do we create more robust time-off plans? How do we care for people’s mental health?

Katie Augsburger:

Those things aren’t often part of organizational strategy for a lot of organizations, but right now that’s really highlighted.

Jill McKenna:

To that point, I’m wondering if you can speak about leadership. I know you deal with a lot of leaders. Speaking to about how leadership can reshape performance reviews and performance expectations now to experience success and experience team success, and a shared win in this environment.

Katie Augsburger:

Yeah. Thank you for that question, because I think what is interesting about this moment right now is two things are happening at once. One, we want to really be thoughtful and caretake for people who are having this really difficult human crisis experience that is unlike anything we have ever experienced in our lifetimes and even in our grandparents’ lifetimes, and in many generations.

Katie Augsburger:

So we want to caretake for that and we want to be thoughtful to people about… You know, their productivity is not going to be the same today as it was yesterday. At the same time, organizations are trying to keep their businesses afloat. They’re trying to make sure that their businesses are solvent, that they’re being good stewards of their resources, that everybody that’s onboard is doing important and good work because resources are really scarce right now.

Katie Augsburger:

So sometimes that duality can lock people up in indecision. Like how do I hold people accountable for their role while knowing that at home, they’ve got three little kids and a partner who’s also a nurse or a doctor? It can be very, very stressful.

Katie Augsburger:

So what I ask people to do is to rethink what productivity means in the organization, but to not stop holding people accountable for those roles, but to rethink about what accountability looks like, and to be really clear about what support you can provide as a manager.

Jill McKenna:

I’m sure you see so many different situations with leaders in different situations for their specific company. Are there ways that you see companies right now strategizing to go forward with an altered performance review idea or concept? How are they starting to map that now? How are you guiding them towards that?

Katie Augsburger:

Yeah. I have been moving organizations to have accountability conversations, as opposed to performance reviews. It’s really difficult to measure people’s performance in this moment. Because, to our point, before productivity is just not in the same space. So often the measures that we put at the beginning of the year may not hold right now. But a performance conversation about, “How can I support you in this moment? Where are your areas that you need extra guidance, or me as a manager, removing barriers? What support can you offer others in the organization?”

Katie Augsburger:

Those conversations might be more meaningful right now. When things start to come back on, and the lights come back on in your organization, and you’re back together, that is going to be a better time for these more meaningful, harder performance feedback conversations about where that person can grow and improve. But it’s going to be difficult to do right now because we’re measuring performance based on metrics that might not be reasonable in this environment.

Jill McKenna:

That makes sense. Is there anything else that you felt was very important in any recent meetings you’ve had or any recent discoveries you’ve had with companies? Things that they’ve encountered that they maybe didn’t expect to, or that’s new to them?

Katie Augsburger:

Yeah, there’s a couple things. One, I’m having conversations with organizations that are having difficult choices to make about to retain employees, especially low performing employees, or not. I think that that is a choice an organization needs to be thoughtful about and make, because it’s important for that employee, and that’s important for the business to make that choice thoughtfully. But to know that like, that is okay. It is okay to still have those conversations about whether to retain employees even in this very difficult time.

Katie Augsburger:

And what I mean by that, I want to be really crystal clear what I mean by that, is that we want to guide our decision making with ethics all the time. And if you’re retaining employees who are absolutely not able to perform because they are not skilled in the role or that maybe they haven’t had the behaviors in the role for a long time, and now we’re all working from home and that’s only amplified, that is a reasonable time to have a conversation with that person.

Katie Augsburger:

However, if people are struggling because this is a difficult time and they’ve been a solid employee through their tenure, but this has highlighted new and different issues for them, and there is additional stress that you might not be aware of, that’s not a time for a termination conversation. That’s a time for a performance conversation. How can I support you? What do you need?

Katie Augsburger:

So you can still make tough decisions as an organization, but this is the time to be extra thoughtful, slow down your process, fact find that information, and see what can you offer to employees at their time of most need.

Jill McKenna:

Amazing. Thank you. That’s very thoughtful for right now, and what so many companies are experiencing and teams are experiencing. Thank you. You’re amazing. We have links to you on our website and in the comments section of our social media. You can get in touch with us to get in touch with Katie. You’re the best. Thank you so much.

Katie Augsburger:

Yeah. Hey, Ruby! Love you all.

Jill McKenna:

Oh, thank you. We love you. Thank you, Katie.

Katie Augsburger:

Thank you.

Additional reads you may find interesting...

View All
Content marketing and social media tips: side view of photo editor working in a creative office
Small Business Tips

Content marketing & social media: 4 easy tips for getting started

A single pine tree on a rocky summit
Small Business Tips

Meeting customer expectations during a holiday season like no other

Person at desk in front of computer waiting on phone
Receptionist Tips

Have trouble handling the emotional weight of phone calls? You’re not alone.

Choosing a business number: overhead view of faded yellow vintage telephone with notebook and numbers on monochrome background
Small Business Tips

What your phone number says about your business

How to find and analyze your website traffic: two people look at a computer in a bright office space
Small Business Tips

How to find and analyze your website traffic

Using virtual receptionists for part-time answering - Ruby

Using virtual receptionists for part-time answering

What is a conversation worth: illustration of a confused person with complicated calculations hovering above their head
Small Business Tips

What is a conversation really worth? We calculated the exact dollar amount.

Top 3 legal marketing strategies for 2022: man looks at laptop
Legal Practice Tips

Top 3 legal marketing strategies for 2022

24/7 live chat: a Ruby chat specialist and a potential new client use computers in split screen with a live chat window between them
About Ruby

How Ruby’s 24/7 live chat solution grows your business and saves you time

Why empathy matters for your business: person listening to another person in cafe with laptop, papers, and coffee
Small Business Tips

Why empathy matters for your business

SEO and branding: star-crossed lovers—an illustration of two people with crowns surrounded by flowers
Small Business Tips

SEO and branding: star-crossed lovers

Title card: Authentic small business marketing with Jamie Adams of Scorpion

Ruby partner feature: Authentic small business marketing with Scorpion

Using chat as a sales tool: hands using laptop
Small Business Tips

4 ways to leverage live chat as a sales tool

How to attract more law firm leads: smiling woman in professional attire talks on phone while using laptop
Legal Practice Tips

Treading water? Here’s how to attract more law firm leads.

Needs-based selling: woman using laptop in well-lit office next to large window.
Small Business Tips

Needs-based selling 101

Try Ruby Risk Free

Call to talk to a live virtual receptionist and hear why 10,000+ companies Ruby.

Call Ruby Sign Up
Sales Support

Already a Ruby customer?

Let’s get started.

Ready to turn more callers into customers?

Missed connections translate to lost revenue. With Ruby, you have a partner in gaining and retaining customers. Plus, we’re so confident you’ll love our service, we offer a 21 day money-back guarantee*.

*Ruby is delighted to offer a money-back guarantee to first time users of both our virtual receptionist service and our chat service. To cancel your service and obtain a full refund for the canceled service (less any multi-service discount), please notify us of the service you wish to cancel either within 21 days of your purchase of that service or before your usage exceeds 500 receptionist minutes/50 billable chats, as applicable, whichever occurs sooner. Some restrictions may apply.