DisruptHR Vancouver: An Interview with Rob Catalano
Rob recently moved back to Canada after five years away and is ecstatic to be back. He has had the privilege to speak in over 20 cities the past three years and loves the opportunity to connect with passionate HR leaders off-stage just as much as speaking. He is an avid hockey and volleyball player, and in his own terms a ‘pointaholic’ – he collects loyalty points for everything and anything!
Editor: Please tell us a little about yourself – your career path and expertise.
Rob: I started my career during university as the fourth employee at a small Marketing agency and focused on creating great brand experiences with major global brands for 6 years. After that, I started my 10-and-a-half-year career at Achievers as a founding employee leading Marketing and our Global Expansion out of Toronto, San Francisco and London, UK. With a love for HR technology and helping companies be successful, I have recently co-founded WorkTango.
Editor: What’s your company and how does it help professions in the Talent arena?
Rob: WorkTango enables managers to have better conversations with employees to create alignment, improve accountability, and develop high performing teams. It’s a way for managers to use technology to revolutionize their 1-on-1 and team meetings, track commitments, and a way to facilitate conversations around roadblocks and feedback. Our focus is offering technology that enables success through conversations, not replace them. It helps professionals in the talent area by making managers more effective, especially since managers have the biggest impact on the employee performance and engagement.
Editor: What brought you to becoming a speaker at Disrupt HR Vancouver?
Rob: I’ve had the pleasure of speaking at HR conferences in over 30 cities the past few years and you start to build a great network of wonderful people. I was asked to speak and had to say yes. I love the concept of Disrupt HR, the uniqueness of the event, and wanted to be a part of it as an attendee, so why not speak as well!
Editor: What will you be speaking about at Disrupt HR Vancouver?
Rob: I’ll be taking about how companies need to think differently about how they train and enable managers and why it’s of paramount importance. I’ll discuss three things to STOP doing to managers and I hope that people reflect on how they can change the ways they’re currently doing things. The event is about disrupting HR, after all.
Editor: Why is your topic important to HR and Talent pros?
Rob: Recent studies show that managers have the largest impact on employee engagement, and since employees leave managers, not companies, I think high priorities for HR and Talent should be focusing on what has huge impact on engaging and retaining employees. I also think it’s been a while since most companies have done much to change their approach on enabling managers. It’s a good reality check and reminder to start building this into future planning.
Editor: You only get 5 minutes to speak to the audience. What unique challenges, and indeed opportunities, does such a condensed speaking slot offer?
Rob: It’s probably the biggest challenge I’ve had planning for any speaking engagement! It will force me to be very clear, to get timing down perfect since you can’t be as spontaneous as you may want to be, and to really reinforce one concept. I’ll let you know how it goes, hopefully I get through it unscathed and the crowd gets value from it. Or it ends miserably and I run out of the building horrified.
Editor: How does Disrupt HR provide you with a platform to talk about talent in new ways?
Rob: The format is a great platform because it draws a crowd from different walks of business life as opposed to just having the same type of people (for example, compensation professionals) in a room. The ability to provide insight on a potentially new concept to someone is pretty cool. As an attendee, I like the idea of hearing up to ten concepts in the same time that it takes to listen to one longer session with one main idea. It helps give different perspectives and broaden horizons.
Editor: Please share 2 or 3 ‘influencers’ in the talent and recruitment space who you follow and tell us why.
Rob: I’m a big fan of @JoshBersin – just has great perspective on why things are happening, but also where things are going. I also like @TimSackett – fun to read. Great tone. Says it like it is.
Editor: The HR Gazette is a big believer in the shift from traditional thoughts of HR to embracing modern HR as part of ‘people and culture‘. What does ‘people and culture’ mean to you?
Rob: People and culture are foundations in which companies build success on. More importantly, foundations that HR can build and impact. What I mean by that is that employees are the inputs that HR can impact every day that create outputs like customer satisfaction and company success (however you define it). The exciting part of HR for me is that I really believe HR has the ability to impact way more than just people and culture, but overall success.
Editor: What do you think will be the major developments in the Talent space to watch out for in the next 12 months and why?
Rob: You’re starting to see it with performance management processes shifting, but I think managing talent is rapidly changing from an annual process to more real-time conversations and engagement with employees. Technology is offering the ability to do a lot of this, and you’re seeing it already: annual engagement surveys are now becoming more frequent to get a quicker pulse on employees; rewards and recognition isn’t an annual years of service approach, it’s social recognition that happens daily. At WorkTango, we see this trend in enabling managers as well. We can’t train managers for a few days and expect them to be successful, rather we should focus on how they can become more real-time in their impact. I may not be able to predict the future, but the future of HR is going to be an exciting one no matter what turn it takes with access to new technology.
More About Rob:
Rob Catalano is passionate about helping companies succeed by leveraging technology to make employees successful. As a founding employee, Rob spent the past 10-years at Achievers, leading Marketing and the company’s global expansion in three different countries until its acquisition last year. With his unique experience in HR Technology, Rob co-founded WorkTango – a platform that helps managers build authentic relationships and trust with their employees and teams.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of The HR Gazette or its team members.