5 Things You Need to Know to Successfully Manage a Team

News
NZ7YT
August 11, 2022
The Atlas Team


Published in Authority Magazine, August 3, 2022

As part of Authority Magazine's series about the five things you need to successfully manage a large team, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michelle Mesina.

Michelle is an accomplished HR executive, recognized thought leader and trusted advisor to business leaders, bringing over 20 years of experience in start-up, high growth, and transformative environments, helping organizations to scale quickly. She currently leads people strategies, programs and services that cultivate exceptional experiences enabling employers to attract and retain top talent at Atlas. Additionally, Michelle is passionate about developing the next generation of leaders, participating in the Illinois Technical Association’s Women Influence Chicago leadership development incubator.

Michelle received a Bachelor of Arts in German Studies from Northwestern University, holds a Senior Professional Human Resources (SPHR) Certification, and sits on the Board of CommunityHealth. In her spare time, Michelle enjoys international travel, cooking, and playing with her new French bulldog puppy.

Michelle Mesina, Chief People Officer of Atlas
Michelle Mesina, Chief People Officer

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

I’m a midwestern girl at heart, born and raised in Kansas City, although I’ve been in Chicago for the last 15+ years. I am also a proud first-generation Filipina-American. Those experiences growing up with one foot in American culture and one foot in Filipino culture have given me a unique and diverse perspective. I’ve also been fortunate to have traveled and lived abroad, the learnings from which I bring into my life every day.

On a lighter note, I fell into HR, but I am so happy I did. I'm energized by the opportunity to make an impact and curate an exceptional employee experience for the people at Atlas. I’ve also learned my profession by doing. I didn’t study HR, but I was given opportunities to learn, took the chance, and found my passion.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I’ve had a lot of exciting things happen to me during my career; however, one that always stands out is early on, when I worked in the international division of a company. Our leaders were working on a joint venture with a German company. Leaders from both companies planned to gather in Kansas City at our HQ, with the German leaders flying to Kansas City via Chicago. My boss thought it would be nice if we had a company representative to meet the German leaders in Chicago and then fly in our CEO’s private plane directly to Kansas City. So he asked me to go, and of course, I said yes. So the next day, I flew to Kansas City in the private plane (my first and only private plane ride!), spent the day with a friend in Chicago while waiting for the German leaders’ flight to arrive, and then met and escorted them on the plane back to Kansas City. What an experience! I was a German major in college, so I was able to use my German language skills. We had a great conversation about Germany and our companies the entire flight from Chicago to Kansas City. As a young, early career professional, this was such a unique experience that I still relish the memory today!

Can you share a story about a funny mistake you made when you first started out? What lesson did you learn from that?

When I was interviewing for my first job, I was so nervous that I mistakenly said “evalued” when I meant “evaluated.” I didn’t even realize it until the interviewer corrected me. Of course, I was horrified and thinking, here I am, a college graduate, and I don’t even know grammar correctly. I felt terrible. But, years later, I reflected on that mistake and realized: 1) everyone is human and makes mistakes; 2) it’s ok to give myself grace about the mistake; 3) take a deep breath — everyone has been nervous in an interview before, and I’ll be ok. Those learnings have guided me throughout my career and helped me to realize that we’re all human and trying our best.

Ok, let’s jump to the core of our interview. So often, when people quit their jobs, they actually “quit their managers."  What are your thoughts on the best way to retain great talent today?

You hit on an important point — managers. Managers play a key role in retaining great talent, and I see this as one of their key responsibilities. To retain great talent, you must first really know your talent — their strengths, areas of development, passions, interests, etc. Next, it’s essential to build that personal relationship with your team members. And then, how are you helping them grow and develop? This also requires having honest conversations with them about where they are in their development. All these things are important in retaining great talent — know your talent, have a relationship with your talent built on trust and honesty, grow and develop your talent.

How do you synchronize large teams to work together effectively?

Every team needs a “north star” — where are we all pointed towards and why? What are each of their roles and how do those work together to contribute towards reaching the north star? If I use the analogy of a sports team, their goal is to win a game. Therefore, each person on the team plays a specific role, and all players understand each other's roles in working together to achieve the goal, which is to win. It’s the same dynamic with a team.

What are the 5 Things You Need To Know To Manage a Team Successfully?

  1. Know your people — take the time to get to know them, their strengths, areas of development, passions, interests and personal lives. When I became the leader of a large team (30+ people), one of the first things I did was schedule 1:1s with each team member. This wasn’t just a one-time thing, though. I kept them up because it was important to me to spend time with each team member on an ongoing basis.
  2. Define your team’s “north star” (vision and mission) — where are you going, and what are you trying to achieve as a team? Crystallize that for your team and make sure people know what each of their roles are in achieving that and how they need to work together to achieve it. Referring back to the same team above, I also brought the team leaders together for a strategy retreat so we could define our vision, mission and strategic initiatives together. We needed to spend time co-creating these foundational pieces together so we had alignment as a team.
  3. Build relationships and have fun — don’t forget to have fun with each other. One of my first bosses did an amazing job building a great team culture. Every year during the holidays, our HR department would have a week of festivities: we’d divide into teams, compete on trivia and desk decorating, culminating at our department holiday luncheon with a skit. It was a great way to build community, have fun and enjoy the holidays.
  4. Prioritize the work (what are the strategic initiatives and why) — similar to defining the “north star,” it’s important to help the team focus where they should focus. What are the top five initiatives that will drive the most significant impact on the business? And why?
  5. Set expectations and model the behavior you want to see. Tell the team what you expect from them in terms of behavior and create an environment of trust where we can all hold each other accountable if those behaviors aren’t being modeled. The best example of that is with the 30+ person team I led. Some leaders were not behaving in alignment — they were very negative, argumentative and not aligned with the vision. These were difficult discussions, but I talked with this leader to set expectations about behavior and give this person the self-awareness that they lacked. In the end, the person shifted their behavior, only after we had some honest conversations. At the same time, I also asked for feedback about my behavior to ensure that I was also modeling the behavior I expected.

What advice would you give to other HR leaders to help their employees to thrive?

The last two years have been challenging for everyone. I believe leaders must show employees grace, empathy and that they care about them genuinely as humans. This can be reflected in truly listening to employees and soliciting their input in developing programs and policies, trusting employees with where, how and when they want to work and giving grace to employees acknowledging that the last two years have been hard. By doing this, employees will feel supported, cared for and feel like they can balance their lives. In return, employees will be committed, engaged, and even more productive. So, it’s a win-win for everyone. But we’ve got to start treating employees with empathy — truly taking a humanistic approach.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

To do the above — take the time to build genuine relationships, listen to each other, and support each other. Treat each other with kindness. This resonates both within the workplace and outside. It seems simple, but often, the most straightforward steps can make the most significant impact.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Then, can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

This life is a gift.

I try to approach every day with a sense of gratitude. Even if nothing “big” happens daily or you’ve had a bad day, there is always something that you can be grateful for. Thinking along these same lines, we only have one life to live. So, I’d instead try to enjoy all aspects of my life, even if sometimes it’s tough because being alive truly is a gift. And I would rather live thriving rather than simply surviving my life.

5 Things You Need to Know to Successfully Manage a Team

News
NZ7YT
August 11, 2022
The Atlas Team


Published in Authority Magazine, August 3, 2022

As part of Authority Magazine's series about the five things you need to successfully manage a large team, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michelle Mesina.

Michelle is an accomplished HR executive, recognized thought leader and trusted advisor to business leaders, bringing over 20 years of experience in start-up, high growth, and transformative environments, helping organizations to scale quickly. She currently leads people strategies, programs and services that cultivate exceptional experiences enabling employers to attract and retain top talent at Atlas. Additionally, Michelle is passionate about developing the next generation of leaders, participating in the Illinois Technical Association’s Women Influence Chicago leadership development incubator.

Michelle received a Bachelor of Arts in German Studies from Northwestern University, holds a Senior Professional Human Resources (SPHR) Certification, and sits on the Board of CommunityHealth. In her spare time, Michelle enjoys international travel, cooking, and playing with her new French bulldog puppy.

Michelle Mesina, Chief People Officer of Atlas
Michelle Mesina, Chief People Officer

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

I’m a midwestern girl at heart, born and raised in Kansas City, although I’ve been in Chicago for the last 15+ years. I am also a proud first-generation Filipina-American. Those experiences growing up with one foot in American culture and one foot in Filipino culture have given me a unique and diverse perspective. I’ve also been fortunate to have traveled and lived abroad, the learnings from which I bring into my life every day.

On a lighter note, I fell into HR, but I am so happy I did. I'm energized by the opportunity to make an impact and curate an exceptional employee experience for the people at Atlas. I’ve also learned my profession by doing. I didn’t study HR, but I was given opportunities to learn, took the chance, and found my passion.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I’ve had a lot of exciting things happen to me during my career; however, one that always stands out is early on, when I worked in the international division of a company. Our leaders were working on a joint venture with a German company. Leaders from both companies planned to gather in Kansas City at our HQ, with the German leaders flying to Kansas City via Chicago. My boss thought it would be nice if we had a company representative to meet the German leaders in Chicago and then fly in our CEO’s private plane directly to Kansas City. So he asked me to go, and of course, I said yes. So the next day, I flew to Kansas City in the private plane (my first and only private plane ride!), spent the day with a friend in Chicago while waiting for the German leaders’ flight to arrive, and then met and escorted them on the plane back to Kansas City. What an experience! I was a German major in college, so I was able to use my German language skills. We had a great conversation about Germany and our companies the entire flight from Chicago to Kansas City. As a young, early career professional, this was such a unique experience that I still relish the memory today!

Can you share a story about a funny mistake you made when you first started out? What lesson did you learn from that?

When I was interviewing for my first job, I was so nervous that I mistakenly said “evalued” when I meant “evaluated.” I didn’t even realize it until the interviewer corrected me. Of course, I was horrified and thinking, here I am, a college graduate, and I don’t even know grammar correctly. I felt terrible. But, years later, I reflected on that mistake and realized: 1) everyone is human and makes mistakes; 2) it’s ok to give myself grace about the mistake; 3) take a deep breath — everyone has been nervous in an interview before, and I’ll be ok. Those learnings have guided me throughout my career and helped me to realize that we’re all human and trying our best.

Ok, let’s jump to the core of our interview. So often, when people quit their jobs, they actually “quit their managers."  What are your thoughts on the best way to retain great talent today?

You hit on an important point — managers. Managers play a key role in retaining great talent, and I see this as one of their key responsibilities. To retain great talent, you must first really know your talent — their strengths, areas of development, passions, interests, etc. Next, it’s essential to build that personal relationship with your team members. And then, how are you helping them grow and develop? This also requires having honest conversations with them about where they are in their development. All these things are important in retaining great talent — know your talent, have a relationship with your talent built on trust and honesty, grow and develop your talent.

How do you synchronize large teams to work together effectively?

Every team needs a “north star” — where are we all pointed towards and why? What are each of their roles and how do those work together to contribute towards reaching the north star? If I use the analogy of a sports team, their goal is to win a game. Therefore, each person on the team plays a specific role, and all players understand each other's roles in working together to achieve the goal, which is to win. It’s the same dynamic with a team.

What are the 5 Things You Need To Know To Manage a Team Successfully?

  1. Know your people — take the time to get to know them, their strengths, areas of development, passions, interests and personal lives. When I became the leader of a large team (30+ people), one of the first things I did was schedule 1:1s with each team member. This wasn’t just a one-time thing, though. I kept them up because it was important to me to spend time with each team member on an ongoing basis.
  2. Define your team’s “north star” (vision and mission) — where are you going, and what are you trying to achieve as a team? Crystallize that for your team and make sure people know what each of their roles are in achieving that and how they need to work together to achieve it. Referring back to the same team above, I also brought the team leaders together for a strategy retreat so we could define our vision, mission and strategic initiatives together. We needed to spend time co-creating these foundational pieces together so we had alignment as a team.
  3. Build relationships and have fun — don’t forget to have fun with each other. One of my first bosses did an amazing job building a great team culture. Every year during the holidays, our HR department would have a week of festivities: we’d divide into teams, compete on trivia and desk decorating, culminating at our department holiday luncheon with a skit. It was a great way to build community, have fun and enjoy the holidays.
  4. Prioritize the work (what are the strategic initiatives and why) — similar to defining the “north star,” it’s important to help the team focus where they should focus. What are the top five initiatives that will drive the most significant impact on the business? And why?
  5. Set expectations and model the behavior you want to see. Tell the team what you expect from them in terms of behavior and create an environment of trust where we can all hold each other accountable if those behaviors aren’t being modeled. The best example of that is with the 30+ person team I led. Some leaders were not behaving in alignment — they were very negative, argumentative and not aligned with the vision. These were difficult discussions, but I talked with this leader to set expectations about behavior and give this person the self-awareness that they lacked. In the end, the person shifted their behavior, only after we had some honest conversations. At the same time, I also asked for feedback about my behavior to ensure that I was also modeling the behavior I expected.

What advice would you give to other HR leaders to help their employees to thrive?

The last two years have been challenging for everyone. I believe leaders must show employees grace, empathy and that they care about them genuinely as humans. This can be reflected in truly listening to employees and soliciting their input in developing programs and policies, trusting employees with where, how and when they want to work and giving grace to employees acknowledging that the last two years have been hard. By doing this, employees will feel supported, cared for and feel like they can balance their lives. In return, employees will be committed, engaged, and even more productive. So, it’s a win-win for everyone. But we’ve got to start treating employees with empathy — truly taking a humanistic approach.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

To do the above — take the time to build genuine relationships, listen to each other, and support each other. Treat each other with kindness. This resonates both within the workplace and outside. It seems simple, but often, the most straightforward steps can make the most significant impact.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Then, can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

This life is a gift.

I try to approach every day with a sense of gratitude. Even if nothing “big” happens daily or you’ve had a bad day, there is always something that you can be grateful for. Thinking along these same lines, we only have one life to live. So, I’d instead try to enjoy all aspects of my life, even if sometimes it’s tough because being alive truly is a gift. And I would rather live thriving rather than simply surviving my life.

5 Things You Need to Know to Successfully Manage a Team

News
NZ7YT
August 11, 2022
The Atlas Team


Published in Authority Magazine, August 3, 2022

As part of Authority Magazine's series about the five things you need to successfully manage a large team, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michelle Mesina.

Michelle is an accomplished HR executive, recognized thought leader and trusted advisor to business leaders, bringing over 20 years of experience in start-up, high growth, and transformative environments, helping organizations to scale quickly. She currently leads people strategies, programs and services that cultivate exceptional experiences enabling employers to attract and retain top talent at Atlas. Additionally, Michelle is passionate about developing the next generation of leaders, participating in the Illinois Technical Association’s Women Influence Chicago leadership development incubator.

Michelle received a Bachelor of Arts in German Studies from Northwestern University, holds a Senior Professional Human Resources (SPHR) Certification, and sits on the Board of CommunityHealth. In her spare time, Michelle enjoys international travel, cooking, and playing with her new French bulldog puppy.

Michelle Mesina, Chief People Officer of Atlas
Michelle Mesina, Chief People Officer

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

I’m a midwestern girl at heart, born and raised in Kansas City, although I’ve been in Chicago for the last 15+ years. I am also a proud first-generation Filipina-American. Those experiences growing up with one foot in American culture and one foot in Filipino culture have given me a unique and diverse perspective. I’ve also been fortunate to have traveled and lived abroad, the learnings from which I bring into my life every day.

On a lighter note, I fell into HR, but I am so happy I did. I'm energized by the opportunity to make an impact and curate an exceptional employee experience for the people at Atlas. I’ve also learned my profession by doing. I didn’t study HR, but I was given opportunities to learn, took the chance, and found my passion.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I’ve had a lot of exciting things happen to me during my career; however, one that always stands out is early on, when I worked in the international division of a company. Our leaders were working on a joint venture with a German company. Leaders from both companies planned to gather in Kansas City at our HQ, with the German leaders flying to Kansas City via Chicago. My boss thought it would be nice if we had a company representative to meet the German leaders in Chicago and then fly in our CEO’s private plane directly to Kansas City. So he asked me to go, and of course, I said yes. So the next day, I flew to Kansas City in the private plane (my first and only private plane ride!), spent the day with a friend in Chicago while waiting for the German leaders’ flight to arrive, and then met and escorted them on the plane back to Kansas City. What an experience! I was a German major in college, so I was able to use my German language skills. We had a great conversation about Germany and our companies the entire flight from Chicago to Kansas City. As a young, early career professional, this was such a unique experience that I still relish the memory today!

Can you share a story about a funny mistake you made when you first started out? What lesson did you learn from that?

When I was interviewing for my first job, I was so nervous that I mistakenly said “evalued” when I meant “evaluated.” I didn’t even realize it until the interviewer corrected me. Of course, I was horrified and thinking, here I am, a college graduate, and I don’t even know grammar correctly. I felt terrible. But, years later, I reflected on that mistake and realized: 1) everyone is human and makes mistakes; 2) it’s ok to give myself grace about the mistake; 3) take a deep breath — everyone has been nervous in an interview before, and I’ll be ok. Those learnings have guided me throughout my career and helped me to realize that we’re all human and trying our best.

Ok, let’s jump to the core of our interview. So often, when people quit their jobs, they actually “quit their managers."  What are your thoughts on the best way to retain great talent today?

You hit on an important point — managers. Managers play a key role in retaining great talent, and I see this as one of their key responsibilities. To retain great talent, you must first really know your talent — their strengths, areas of development, passions, interests, etc. Next, it’s essential to build that personal relationship with your team members. And then, how are you helping them grow and develop? This also requires having honest conversations with them about where they are in their development. All these things are important in retaining great talent — know your talent, have a relationship with your talent built on trust and honesty, grow and develop your talent.

How do you synchronize large teams to work together effectively?

Every team needs a “north star” — where are we all pointed towards and why? What are each of their roles and how do those work together to contribute towards reaching the north star? If I use the analogy of a sports team, their goal is to win a game. Therefore, each person on the team plays a specific role, and all players understand each other's roles in working together to achieve the goal, which is to win. It’s the same dynamic with a team.

What are the 5 Things You Need To Know To Manage a Team Successfully?

  1. Know your people — take the time to get to know them, their strengths, areas of development, passions, interests and personal lives. When I became the leader of a large team (30+ people), one of the first things I did was schedule 1:1s with each team member. This wasn’t just a one-time thing, though. I kept them up because it was important to me to spend time with each team member on an ongoing basis.
  2. Define your team’s “north star” (vision and mission) — where are you going, and what are you trying to achieve as a team? Crystallize that for your team and make sure people know what each of their roles are in achieving that and how they need to work together to achieve it. Referring back to the same team above, I also brought the team leaders together for a strategy retreat so we could define our vision, mission and strategic initiatives together. We needed to spend time co-creating these foundational pieces together so we had alignment as a team.
  3. Build relationships and have fun — don’t forget to have fun with each other. One of my first bosses did an amazing job building a great team culture. Every year during the holidays, our HR department would have a week of festivities: we’d divide into teams, compete on trivia and desk decorating, culminating at our department holiday luncheon with a skit. It was a great way to build community, have fun and enjoy the holidays.
  4. Prioritize the work (what are the strategic initiatives and why) — similar to defining the “north star,” it’s important to help the team focus where they should focus. What are the top five initiatives that will drive the most significant impact on the business? And why?
  5. Set expectations and model the behavior you want to see. Tell the team what you expect from them in terms of behavior and create an environment of trust where we can all hold each other accountable if those behaviors aren’t being modeled. The best example of that is with the 30+ person team I led. Some leaders were not behaving in alignment — they were very negative, argumentative and not aligned with the vision. These were difficult discussions, but I talked with this leader to set expectations about behavior and give this person the self-awareness that they lacked. In the end, the person shifted their behavior, only after we had some honest conversations. At the same time, I also asked for feedback about my behavior to ensure that I was also modeling the behavior I expected.

What advice would you give to other HR leaders to help their employees to thrive?

The last two years have been challenging for everyone. I believe leaders must show employees grace, empathy and that they care about them genuinely as humans. This can be reflected in truly listening to employees and soliciting their input in developing programs and policies, trusting employees with where, how and when they want to work and giving grace to employees acknowledging that the last two years have been hard. By doing this, employees will feel supported, cared for and feel like they can balance their lives. In return, employees will be committed, engaged, and even more productive. So, it’s a win-win for everyone. But we’ve got to start treating employees with empathy — truly taking a humanistic approach.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

To do the above — take the time to build genuine relationships, listen to each other, and support each other. Treat each other with kindness. This resonates both within the workplace and outside. It seems simple, but often, the most straightforward steps can make the most significant impact.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Then, can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

This life is a gift.

I try to approach every day with a sense of gratitude. Even if nothing “big” happens daily or you’ve had a bad day, there is always something that you can be grateful for. Thinking along these same lines, we only have one life to live. So, I’d instead try to enjoy all aspects of my life, even if sometimes it’s tough because being alive truly is a gift. And I would rather live thriving rather than simply surviving my life.

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NZ7YT

5 Things You Need to Know to Successfully Manage a Team


Published in Authority Magazine, August 3, 2022

As part of Authority Magazine's series about the five things you need to successfully manage a large team, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michelle Mesina.

Michelle is an accomplished HR executive, recognized thought leader and trusted advisor to business leaders, bringing over 20 years of experience in start-up, high growth, and transformative environments, helping organizations to scale quickly. She currently leads people strategies, programs and services that cultivate exceptional experiences enabling employers to attract and retain top talent at Atlas. Additionally, Michelle is passionate about developing the next generation of leaders, participating in the Illinois Technical Association’s Women Influence Chicago leadership development incubator.

Michelle received a Bachelor of Arts in German Studies from Northwestern University, holds a Senior Professional Human Resources (SPHR) Certification, and sits on the Board of CommunityHealth. In her spare time, Michelle enjoys international travel, cooking, and playing with her new French bulldog puppy.

Michelle Mesina, Chief People Officer of Atlas
Michelle Mesina, Chief People Officer

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

I’m a midwestern girl at heart, born and raised in Kansas City, although I’ve been in Chicago for the last 15+ years. I am also a proud first-generation Filipina-American. Those experiences growing up with one foot in American culture and one foot in Filipino culture have given me a unique and diverse perspective. I’ve also been fortunate to have traveled and lived abroad, the learnings from which I bring into my life every day.

On a lighter note, I fell into HR, but I am so happy I did. I'm energized by the opportunity to make an impact and curate an exceptional employee experience for the people at Atlas. I’ve also learned my profession by doing. I didn’t study HR, but I was given opportunities to learn, took the chance, and found my passion.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I’ve had a lot of exciting things happen to me during my career; however, one that always stands out is early on, when I worked in the international division of a company. Our leaders were working on a joint venture with a German company. Leaders from both companies planned to gather in Kansas City at our HQ, with the German leaders flying to Kansas City via Chicago. My boss thought it would be nice if we had a company representative to meet the German leaders in Chicago and then fly in our CEO’s private plane directly to Kansas City. So he asked me to go, and of course, I said yes. So the next day, I flew to Kansas City in the private plane (my first and only private plane ride!), spent the day with a friend in Chicago while waiting for the German leaders’ flight to arrive, and then met and escorted them on the plane back to Kansas City. What an experience! I was a German major in college, so I was able to use my German language skills. We had a great conversation about Germany and our companies the entire flight from Chicago to Kansas City. As a young, early career professional, this was such a unique experience that I still relish the memory today!

Can you share a story about a funny mistake you made when you first started out? What lesson did you learn from that?

When I was interviewing for my first job, I was so nervous that I mistakenly said “evalued” when I meant “evaluated.” I didn’t even realize it until the interviewer corrected me. Of course, I was horrified and thinking, here I am, a college graduate, and I don’t even know grammar correctly. I felt terrible. But, years later, I reflected on that mistake and realized: 1) everyone is human and makes mistakes; 2) it’s ok to give myself grace about the mistake; 3) take a deep breath — everyone has been nervous in an interview before, and I’ll be ok. Those learnings have guided me throughout my career and helped me to realize that we’re all human and trying our best.

Ok, let’s jump to the core of our interview. So often, when people quit their jobs, they actually “quit their managers."  What are your thoughts on the best way to retain great talent today?

You hit on an important point — managers. Managers play a key role in retaining great talent, and I see this as one of their key responsibilities. To retain great talent, you must first really know your talent — their strengths, areas of development, passions, interests, etc. Next, it’s essential to build that personal relationship with your team members. And then, how are you helping them grow and develop? This also requires having honest conversations with them about where they are in their development. All these things are important in retaining great talent — know your talent, have a relationship with your talent built on trust and honesty, grow and develop your talent.

How do you synchronize large teams to work together effectively?

Every team needs a “north star” — where are we all pointed towards and why? What are each of their roles and how do those work together to contribute towards reaching the north star? If I use the analogy of a sports team, their goal is to win a game. Therefore, each person on the team plays a specific role, and all players understand each other's roles in working together to achieve the goal, which is to win. It’s the same dynamic with a team.

What are the 5 Things You Need To Know To Manage a Team Successfully?

  1. Know your people — take the time to get to know them, their strengths, areas of development, passions, interests and personal lives. When I became the leader of a large team (30+ people), one of the first things I did was schedule 1:1s with each team member. This wasn’t just a one-time thing, though. I kept them up because it was important to me to spend time with each team member on an ongoing basis.
  2. Define your team’s “north star” (vision and mission) — where are you going, and what are you trying to achieve as a team? Crystallize that for your team and make sure people know what each of their roles are in achieving that and how they need to work together to achieve it. Referring back to the same team above, I also brought the team leaders together for a strategy retreat so we could define our vision, mission and strategic initiatives together. We needed to spend time co-creating these foundational pieces together so we had alignment as a team.
  3. Build relationships and have fun — don’t forget to have fun with each other. One of my first bosses did an amazing job building a great team culture. Every year during the holidays, our HR department would have a week of festivities: we’d divide into teams, compete on trivia and desk decorating, culminating at our department holiday luncheon with a skit. It was a great way to build community, have fun and enjoy the holidays.
  4. Prioritize the work (what are the strategic initiatives and why) — similar to defining the “north star,” it’s important to help the team focus where they should focus. What are the top five initiatives that will drive the most significant impact on the business? And why?
  5. Set expectations and model the behavior you want to see. Tell the team what you expect from them in terms of behavior and create an environment of trust where we can all hold each other accountable if those behaviors aren’t being modeled. The best example of that is with the 30+ person team I led. Some leaders were not behaving in alignment — they were very negative, argumentative and not aligned with the vision. These were difficult discussions, but I talked with this leader to set expectations about behavior and give this person the self-awareness that they lacked. In the end, the person shifted their behavior, only after we had some honest conversations. At the same time, I also asked for feedback about my behavior to ensure that I was also modeling the behavior I expected.

What advice would you give to other HR leaders to help their employees to thrive?

The last two years have been challenging for everyone. I believe leaders must show employees grace, empathy and that they care about them genuinely as humans. This can be reflected in truly listening to employees and soliciting their input in developing programs and policies, trusting employees with where, how and when they want to work and giving grace to employees acknowledging that the last two years have been hard. By doing this, employees will feel supported, cared for and feel like they can balance their lives. In return, employees will be committed, engaged, and even more productive. So, it’s a win-win for everyone. But we’ve got to start treating employees with empathy — truly taking a humanistic approach.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

To do the above — take the time to build genuine relationships, listen to each other, and support each other. Treat each other with kindness. This resonates both within the workplace and outside. It seems simple, but often, the most straightforward steps can make the most significant impact.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Then, can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

This life is a gift.

I try to approach every day with a sense of gratitude. Even if nothing “big” happens daily or you’ve had a bad day, there is always something that you can be grateful for. Thinking along these same lines, we only have one life to live. So, I’d instead try to enjoy all aspects of my life, even if sometimes it’s tough because being alive truly is a gift. And I would rather live thriving rather than simply surviving my life.

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5 Things You Need to Know to Successfully Manage a Team

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NZ7YT
August 11, 2022
5 Things You Need to Know to Successfully Manage a Team

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5 Things You Need to Know to Successfully Manage a Team

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NZ7YT
August 11, 2022
5 Things You Need to Know to Successfully Manage a Team


Published in Authority Magazine, August 3, 2022

As part of Authority Magazine's series about the five things you need to successfully manage a large team, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michelle Mesina.

Michelle is an accomplished HR executive, recognized thought leader and trusted advisor to business leaders, bringing over 20 years of experience in start-up, high growth, and transformative environments, helping organizations to scale quickly. She currently leads people strategies, programs and services that cultivate exceptional experiences enabling employers to attract and retain top talent at Atlas. Additionally, Michelle is passionate about developing the next generation of leaders, participating in the Illinois Technical Association’s Women Influence Chicago leadership development incubator.

Michelle received a Bachelor of Arts in German Studies from Northwestern University, holds a Senior Professional Human Resources (SPHR) Certification, and sits on the Board of CommunityHealth. In her spare time, Michelle enjoys international travel, cooking, and playing with her new French bulldog puppy.

Michelle Mesina, Chief People Officer of Atlas
Michelle Mesina, Chief People Officer

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

I’m a midwestern girl at heart, born and raised in Kansas City, although I’ve been in Chicago for the last 15+ years. I am also a proud first-generation Filipina-American. Those experiences growing up with one foot in American culture and one foot in Filipino culture have given me a unique and diverse perspective. I’ve also been fortunate to have traveled and lived abroad, the learnings from which I bring into my life every day.

On a lighter note, I fell into HR, but I am so happy I did. I'm energized by the opportunity to make an impact and curate an exceptional employee experience for the people at Atlas. I’ve also learned my profession by doing. I didn’t study HR, but I was given opportunities to learn, took the chance, and found my passion.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I’ve had a lot of exciting things happen to me during my career; however, one that always stands out is early on, when I worked in the international division of a company. Our leaders were working on a joint venture with a German company. Leaders from both companies planned to gather in Kansas City at our HQ, with the German leaders flying to Kansas City via Chicago. My boss thought it would be nice if we had a company representative to meet the German leaders in Chicago and then fly in our CEO’s private plane directly to Kansas City. So he asked me to go, and of course, I said yes. So the next day, I flew to Kansas City in the private plane (my first and only private plane ride!), spent the day with a friend in Chicago while waiting for the German leaders’ flight to arrive, and then met and escorted them on the plane back to Kansas City. What an experience! I was a German major in college, so I was able to use my German language skills. We had a great conversation about Germany and our companies the entire flight from Chicago to Kansas City. As a young, early career professional, this was such a unique experience that I still relish the memory today!

Can you share a story about a funny mistake you made when you first started out? What lesson did you learn from that?

When I was interviewing for my first job, I was so nervous that I mistakenly said “evalued” when I meant “evaluated.” I didn’t even realize it until the interviewer corrected me. Of course, I was horrified and thinking, here I am, a college graduate, and I don’t even know grammar correctly. I felt terrible. But, years later, I reflected on that mistake and realized: 1) everyone is human and makes mistakes; 2) it’s ok to give myself grace about the mistake; 3) take a deep breath — everyone has been nervous in an interview before, and I’ll be ok. Those learnings have guided me throughout my career and helped me to realize that we’re all human and trying our best.

Ok, let’s jump to the core of our interview. So often, when people quit their jobs, they actually “quit their managers."  What are your thoughts on the best way to retain great talent today?

You hit on an important point — managers. Managers play a key role in retaining great talent, and I see this as one of their key responsibilities. To retain great talent, you must first really know your talent — their strengths, areas of development, passions, interests, etc. Next, it’s essential to build that personal relationship with your team members. And then, how are you helping them grow and develop? This also requires having honest conversations with them about where they are in their development. All these things are important in retaining great talent — know your talent, have a relationship with your talent built on trust and honesty, grow and develop your talent.

How do you synchronize large teams to work together effectively?

Every team needs a “north star” — where are we all pointed towards and why? What are each of their roles and how do those work together to contribute towards reaching the north star? If I use the analogy of a sports team, their goal is to win a game. Therefore, each person on the team plays a specific role, and all players understand each other's roles in working together to achieve the goal, which is to win. It’s the same dynamic with a team.

What are the 5 Things You Need To Know To Manage a Team Successfully?

  1. Know your people — take the time to get to know them, their strengths, areas of development, passions, interests and personal lives. When I became the leader of a large team (30+ people), one of the first things I did was schedule 1:1s with each team member. This wasn’t just a one-time thing, though. I kept them up because it was important to me to spend time with each team member on an ongoing basis.
  2. Define your team’s “north star” (vision and mission) — where are you going, and what are you trying to achieve as a team? Crystallize that for your team and make sure people know what each of their roles are in achieving that and how they need to work together to achieve it. Referring back to the same team above, I also brought the team leaders together for a strategy retreat so we could define our vision, mission and strategic initiatives together. We needed to spend time co-creating these foundational pieces together so we had alignment as a team.
  3. Build relationships and have fun — don’t forget to have fun with each other. One of my first bosses did an amazing job building a great team culture. Every year during the holidays, our HR department would have a week of festivities: we’d divide into teams, compete on trivia and desk decorating, culminating at our department holiday luncheon with a skit. It was a great way to build community, have fun and enjoy the holidays.
  4. Prioritize the work (what are the strategic initiatives and why) — similar to defining the “north star,” it’s important to help the team focus where they should focus. What are the top five initiatives that will drive the most significant impact on the business? And why?
  5. Set expectations and model the behavior you want to see. Tell the team what you expect from them in terms of behavior and create an environment of trust where we can all hold each other accountable if those behaviors aren’t being modeled. The best example of that is with the 30+ person team I led. Some leaders were not behaving in alignment — they were very negative, argumentative and not aligned with the vision. These were difficult discussions, but I talked with this leader to set expectations about behavior and give this person the self-awareness that they lacked. In the end, the person shifted their behavior, only after we had some honest conversations. At the same time, I also asked for feedback about my behavior to ensure that I was also modeling the behavior I expected.

What advice would you give to other HR leaders to help their employees to thrive?

The last two years have been challenging for everyone. I believe leaders must show employees grace, empathy and that they care about them genuinely as humans. This can be reflected in truly listening to employees and soliciting their input in developing programs and policies, trusting employees with where, how and when they want to work and giving grace to employees acknowledging that the last two years have been hard. By doing this, employees will feel supported, cared for and feel like they can balance their lives. In return, employees will be committed, engaged, and even more productive. So, it’s a win-win for everyone. But we’ve got to start treating employees with empathy — truly taking a humanistic approach.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

To do the above — take the time to build genuine relationships, listen to each other, and support each other. Treat each other with kindness. This resonates both within the workplace and outside. It seems simple, but often, the most straightforward steps can make the most significant impact.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Then, can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

This life is a gift.

I try to approach every day with a sense of gratitude. Even if nothing “big” happens daily or you’ve had a bad day, there is always something that you can be grateful for. Thinking along these same lines, we only have one life to live. So, I’d instead try to enjoy all aspects of my life, even if sometimes it’s tough because being alive truly is a gift. And I would rather live thriving rather than simply surviving my life.

Register To Download

5 Things You Need to Know to Successfully Manage a Team

News
NZ7YT
September 6, 2022

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

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