Coworking with Linda Kong

On Wednesdays, we schedule our weekly 1:1 with HR Brew’s readers. Want to be featured in an upcoming edition? Click here to introduce yourself.

Since February, Linda Kong has been the director of people operations at Morning Brew, the media company that publishes HR Brew. As Morning Brew’s first director of people operations, she’s responsible for company cultural engagement and is an expert at LOAs. Kong brings ~15 years of experience in people ops to Morning Brew and holds a master’s degree in labor and industrial relations from Cornell University. Read on for her insights on HR and what she’s got cooking for Morning Brew.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

How would you describe your specific job to someone who doesn’t work in HR? I try to cultivate a place of belonging for everyone at the company so they feel valued, heard, and seen.

What’s the best change you’ve made at a place you’ve worked? I used to work for an organization that was trying to change their culture, and one of the big changes we made was on feedback. There is so much power in managers, peers, and leaders being able to give feedback in a meaningful and timely way. We implemented tools/resources and had held many training sessions company wide on ways to give feedback. This included giving feedback on areas of opportunity, one-on-one conversations with your manager or direct report, and casual-outs to anyone going above and beyond. I think this helped create a culture of transparency where employees felt valued and invested in.

What’s the biggest misconception people might have about your job? I think people only know HR for what they personally have experienced, whether it be implementing a policy, employee relations, benefits, etc. But that is just one aspect of HR. Since we are the people part of the company, HR is constantly evolving as the needs of companies and employees change. For example, diversity, equity, and inclusion is something that has recently been a big priority that HR is now responsible for. So on top of employee relations, compensation, recruiting, etc., we are also responsible for the company’s culture.

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What trend in HR are you most optimistic about? Why? I know this will sound strange coming from an HR professional, but I am really excited to see the Great Resignation happening. For the first time in a long time, employees are taking some power back and challenging workplace norms that don’t make sense. It is forcing companies to look at their policies, compensation, culture, etc., to make changes to attract talent. My biggest takeaway from this isn’t that people don’t want to work, but they don’t want to work for certain companies. And it’s time for all of us to create inclusive companies that make people want to come work for us, and continue to work for us.

What trend in HR are you least optimism about? Why? The idea of ​​categorizing employees as “high potential” or “high performing.” I understand the idea of ​​wanting to identify and keep strong talent, but the label of “high performer” or “high potential” creates biases. A “high-potential” label is usually subjective, and it gives an unfair advantage to those employees. Once leaders know an employee is in that category, it perpetuates the thought, and it doesn’t give fair consideration to others.

Tell us one new or old HR tech product or platform that’s made your life easier, and why: BambooHR. It is my first time using this HRIS system and I find it so user friendly and easy to use! It’s great for a company of our size. I have used Workday in the past and also loved it.

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