Alicia Reece is the founder and CEO of the Reece Group. As a certified executive coach and talent strategist, she has over 20 years of experience working with individual professionals and leaders at every level across Fortune 500, enterprise, and start-up organizations such as Cisco, Gilead Sciences, KPMG, Lyft, Salesforce, FedEx, Warner Brothers, and NCR.
At the heart of her practice is helping my clients solve their greatest challenges whether they are ready for the next leadership level but unsure how to make the transition, feeling stuck in a career that is unfulfilling, wanting to improve their leadership effectiveness, or looking for ways to increase employee engagement and retention.
Having certifications in a number of leadership and career assessments including emotional intelligence and strengths, her clients benefit from working with her by learning how to cultivate their self-awareness, improve relationships and decision-making, and dispel the imposter syndrome (feelings of not being good enough) to achieve their goals.
As a speaker, she facilitates customized workshops/webinars, delivers keynotes, and serves as a panelist including Forbes and ERGs.
Prior to launching her coaching and consulting practice, she spent most of her career in HR leadership roles within Fortune 500 organizations.
Most notably, she spent nearly a decade with Cisco working at the intersection of HR and business. Currently, she partners with Cisco as one of their leadership coaches.
Additionally, she has partnerships with Duke Corporate Education, the University of Michigan Alumni Network, & Right Management which allows her the honor to coach talented professionals and leaders within their networks globally.
Connect with Alicia on LinkedIn.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- How does a toxic work environment impact your success at the organization/company
- It is crucial to cultivate a safe hybrid work model today
- Signs of a toxic hybrid work environment
- Tips for strategizing your way through a toxic hybrid workplace
- How can organizations enhance their company culture to avoid a toxic hybrid workplace
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:02] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, it’s time for Coach the Coach Radio brought to you by the Business RadioX ambassador program, the no cost business development strategy for coaches who want to spend more time serving local business clients and less time selling them. Go to BRXmbassador.Com to learn more. Now here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:33] Lee Kantor here, another episode of Coach the Coach Radio, and this is going to be a good one today, we have with us Alicia Reece with the Risk Group. Welcome. Highly well, before we get too far in to things, tell us a little bit about the risk group. How are you serving folks?
Alicia Reece: [00:00:50] Yeah, absolutely, so the risk group is a coaching and consulting firm that I’ve run as as the owner and lead coach and consultant, we serve as Fortune 500 companies globally in the areas of career management and leadership development, with an emphasis on emotional intelligence.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:14] So what’s your back story? Have you always been a coach?
Alicia Reece: [00:01:17] I have not, however, the journey that I took professionally and even educationally led me to this point. So I started my career over twenty five years ago working at the intersection of people and business. And what that translates to is various leadership roles that I had for several different Fortune 500 companies. But most notably, I spent over a decade working at Cisco in various capacities from being an H.R. business partner leader, supporting engineers globally to working in mergers and acquisitions. And then about 12 years ago, while I was sitting in the engineering organization as a business partner leader at Cisco, I noticed that I wasn’t fully energized by the work. On paper, everything looks perfect, like I had a really nice, flexible work environment. I was delivering results. I was even growing. But again, I just felt deep inside like something was missing for me. And so I did a lot of introspective work. And what I did use was that I wanted to get back through the power of coaching. I had touch coaching throughout my career, but I wasn’t fully entrenched in doing the work on a day to day basis. So once I had that clarity, I went through formal coach training and loved it, met a global tribe of people who had the same love, really wanting to see people live their best lives, be productive and happy in their careers.
Alicia Reece: [00:02:53] And I again, I was just totally smitten by the work. And so after I graduated from the program, I eventually became an internal executive coach within Cisco. I transitioned from being an H.R. business partner and moved into the leadership development area where I was fully in the world of coaching and even started a part time practice where I was seeing coaches or seeing clients at various various stages in their careers. And then as luck would have it, five years ago, I went through a transition, left Cisco and basically flipped the switch, transitioned my part time practice into a full time coaching firm. And I have to be honest with you, I literally had a six month plan. I never plan to be an entrepreneur like I thought I was going to eventually become a HRO or just stay in corporate and continue to grow my career. But I did take that leap. And six months has turned into five years. And I have a thriving coaching consulting practice now.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:07] Are your clients those same kind of enterprise level companies?
Alicia Reece: [00:04:12] Yes, the clients are the enterprise level companies. In fact, I always talk to my clients about the power of relationships. And so the first client organization who took a chance on me was Cisco, and I still actually coach with them today.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:28] Now, are you finding that at the enterprise level that coaching is no longer kind of something for the highest levels of leadership, that it’s kind of trickling down to more of the important leaders throughout the company, not just kind of at the C suite?
Alicia Reece: [00:04:46] Absolutely. I think traditionally what we’ve seen is coaching, particularly executive coaching, has been reserved for the top of the house of an organization. But as we see younger and younger generations, the millennials, generation Z, Generation Y, as they come into the workforce, they are now becoming the majority of the organization and even in their youth or even being young in their careers, they’re taking on leadership roles. So I absolutely see and have experience working with younger leaders and even individual contributors. Honestly, coaching has become an employee perk that a lot of organizations are using to help with the betterment of their organizations as well as to drive employee engagement.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:40] So it’s no longer kind of, like you said, at the highest levels. It’s part of the corporate culture that’s saying, hey, we want you to be the best you you can be. And coaching is a great tool to help you achieve that.
Alicia Reece: [00:05:52] Absolutely. Absolutely.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:54] Now, as we’re hopefully coming out of this pandemic and a lot of the work forces now at some point fully remote to now, kind of partially remote and people are kind of just trying to figure things out to the best of their ability because it is kind of chaotic right now. How do you recommend that companies kind of deal with culture? When you’re not kind of in the same room with folks as much as you used to be, where culture can kind of permeate itself by osmosis, I guess, when we’re all together. But now you’re dealing with folks that are all over the planet.
Alicia Reece: [00:06:33] Yeah, absolutely, it’s important that companies have some really good protocols, procedures, and I would just say overall really good leadership hygiene to support what you’ve just described as the hybrid workplace. The reality here is the pandemic created a huge experiment in folks working from home or even working partially in the office. And a lot of companies, particularly high tech, like I come from the Cisco world. We had been working from home for probably about 12 to 15 years prior to the pandemic. So for some companies, this isn’t new. But for those companies where this is a new situation, they really need to support their clients or their employees and having really strong practices in place, employee practices that will help to build the connect connection. So, for instance, looking at how you run meetings, making sure if there is a hybrid type of workplace where you have some folks in the office and some some folks who are actually bio zoom or another video enabled platform, ensuring that you actually plan those meetings and that where there is a level of where there is there’s a level of common ground, if you will, meaning you’re not scheduling the meetings too late, you’re not scheduling the meetings too early because you’re going to have multiple time zones actually participating in the meetings.
Alicia Reece: [00:08:17] I think also looking at leadership, as I mentioned, in terms of really understanding how leaders are showing up or how they’re treating employees fairly. Gone are the days where you can actually drop by a person’s desk and and cultivate relationships in that way. So ensuring that leaders are taking the time to meet with their employees on a day to day basis and checking in with them, I think also it’s important that tools, technology tools are embedded as a part of the cultural fabric, looking at that hybrid workplace. So thinking about Web based tools such as Zoome and WebEx, also looking at tools that have instant messenger. Right. So you can instantly connect with someone as well. And then I also think it’s important that companies look at their policies and procedures in terms of how they get work done, how they support each other, their business code of conduct in terms of how they are engaging in the various practices of the organization.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:32] Now, do you have any advice for the folks that you know, like you said, a lot of the especially technology firms have embraced remote and they have employees all over the planet. And that’s not kind of a new thing. The pandemic didn’t change much from that standpoint. But for the folks that are kind of dealt with this for the first time and then really have a desire to go back in office at some point and have, like you said, created or decided on some hybrid model of this, how do you advise them when it comes to just kind of the inherent bias of proximity? So if a bunch of people are coming to the office and then how do you kind of make sure the culture includes the folks that decide not to come into the office and and kind of protect them and help them get promoted and to prevent some of this just proximity bias of how I’m hanging out with this person? There’s an opportunity. I’m going to think of the person that I’m glad that, like you said, bump into or looks over my shoulder or hangs out with me or go to lunch with me.
Alicia Reece: [00:10:38] Yeah, I absolutely believe that proximity bias is is a real challenge that has to be proactively tackled and a part of that is really ensuring that managers have some good practices in place and even some leadership tenets in terms of how they engage. So, again, ensuring that there is fair treatment across the board. Let’s just take a team, for example. So ensuring that you are meeting with everyone on your team, those folks who are remote, as well as the folks who are coming into the office, I think also ensuring that there are equal opportunities for your team as well. So, for instance, if you are having a team meeting, allow some of the remote employees to actually facilitate the meeting or provide updates on topics. There has to be a balance between the treatment of employees who are remote, as well as those employees who are coming to the office and even how you evaluate employees from a performance perspective, because I think oftentimes, again, there is some bias that happens naturally when you are in close proximity, you have a stronger relationship, a stronger connection. And so for managers, for leaders, they’re going to have to be more intentional about cultivating the relationships with the employees who are remote, ensuring that they have the right visibility opportunities, again, as I mentioned, by facilitating a meeting or sharing an update, but then also ensuring that they have the same type of development opportunities and advancement opportunities, whether it’s a stretch assignment or moving into a new role. But it is going to take a lot of intention, intentional practices, to ensure that that type of proximity bias doesn’t happen and it doesn’t tear into the core of the fabric of the culture, because the reality here is if there is unfair treatment, there will be turnover and employee turnover. And as you know, a turnover could cost organizations billions of dollars.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:03] Now, to me this. If a company is going deciding if the hybridize work is going to work for them or experimenting with it, this is where having somebody like you, an expert that can deal with this, is so important, especially even fresh eyes looking at the situation because they may not even see some of these kind of potential landmines ahead of them. And if you don’t, like you said, orchestrate this in an elegant, fair way, it’s going to be easy to kind of slip into some sort of a more toxic work place. So I think I agree 100 percent that this is not something you just go, hey, now we’re hybrid and then you come in when you want to, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Tuesday or whatever. The thing is, you can’t just kind of haphazardly do this. You have to really start playing out scenarios and understanding where the landmines are ahead of time so that when you do kind of go into a hybrid work environment, that you’re doing it in in the best way possible.
Alicia Reece: [00:14:06] Absolutely. Absolutely.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:08] Now, is there some like when you’re working with a firm. How do you kind of help them become aware of, hey, you know what, you might have some danger here or there’s something here that could kind of get away from you when it comes to culture and you could have, you know, kind of not so great work environment if you deploy that way. Like, do they have the self-awareness to kind of see that ahead of time? Are you coming in to fix something that’s already kind of gone off the rails a little bit?
Alicia Reece: [00:14:42] Yeah, I think in a blue sky world, it would be nice for organizations to reach out to consultants and coaches such as myself to get ahead of any type of challenges that may manifest. At the same time, a lot of times organizations will reach out once something is not working. And typically when I’m brought in, I will do an assessment depending on what’s happening in the organization. It could be a cultural assessment, it can be a team assessment or could even be an employee relations assessment to really understand what’s happening systemically within the organization so that we can figure out the proper protocols, practices and actions that need to be taken in order to move to a better place where the organization can perform and have a level of productivity so that they can reach the goals that they’ve set for themselves.
Lee Kantor: [00:15:44] Now is a symptom of this dysfunction, is it that is turnover? Is that the the kind of the flashing red light that says, hey, we better kind of rethink what we’re doing? The turnover rate’s kind of bumping up a little bit, or there are other symptoms that are like, hey, you might have a problem here. Like, can you catch him when it’s a yellow light instead of a red light?
Alicia Reece: [00:16:04] Yeah, absolutely. I think certainly turnover would for sure be the red light once you start to lose people, because obviously that impacts profitability. But certainly there are other signs that could lead to we may be in danger here. Right. The yellow light, as you mentioned, and some of those signs could be as simple as having employee engagement survey and seeing that a percentage of your employees are not engaged or maybe a particular affinity group within your organization. They’re not engaged, but really getting ahead of understanding what’s getting in the way of their engagement and putting strategies in place. I think that that’s certainly a piece also not meeting their goals like I recently got to reach out from a client that I’m going to be doing a leadership retreat. And it’s really around and coaching in a couple of weeks out in California. And I had to reach out because there was a lack of accountability as it relates to the team meeting their goals. And so going into the next fiscal year, this particular leader wanted to strengthen accountability, wanted to strengthen trust, and wanted to strengthen the overall commitment to achieving their goals. So I definitely think there are other signs. But the reality here is to the point you just raised, you don’t want to get to the red light. You know, maybe there is a yellow or maybe it’s just about to go the yellow and then you want to bring in and bring a consultant in and have some interventions put in place to move forward.
Lee Kantor: [00:17:43] Now, you mentioned the retreat. You mentioned coaching earlier. What are some other ways that you engage with your clients? What are some of the other services you provide?
Alicia Reece: [00:17:53] Yeah, absolutely. So I provide assessments, team assessments, as well as individual leadership assessments. The assessments typically have a common thread around emotional intelligence. I have a certification and emotional intelligence, and I personally believe that at the end of the day, all roads lead to your emotional intelligence. So when you think about any problem that you’re grappling with, I can tie it back to a dimension of emotional intelligence. And so everything that I do is is embedded there. So I do assessments. I also do career management coaching. Certainly the pandemic has raised a lot of concern and has elevated the consciousness of folks around happiness and really wanting to be in a career that is fulfilling. So often times you see people doing this because something bad has happened. But what I’ve seen over the past 16 months is people have been very proactive about wanting to move into a career that is is more fulfilling. And so I do a lot of that work. I enjoy that. But even in the career management coaching, there’s always an element of emotional intelligence understanding. You’re showing up being perceptive of others in a way where you’re able to make better decisions, manage relationships and stress to get to the outcomes that you want.
Alicia Reece: [00:19:24] So I also do that facilitation and I also have my first book coming out. I’m so excited. On September the 16th, the book is called Driven to Thrive 10 Proven Strategies to Excel, Expand and Elevate Your Career in Life. And it’s really about how you manage your career from the inside out through the power of emotional intelligence. And when I think about this book, this is the book that I wish I had when I graduated from business school and entered corporate America and really just trying to find my way. This is the book I wish I had when I was contending with Imposter Syndrome and didn’t have the language to understand what was happening to me. This is the book I wish I had when I was going through a career hiccup. And so I share a lot of personal stories, but also stories of my clients. Of course, I’ve changed their names from a confidentiality perspective, but I share a lot of stories around how to how to ensure that you are thriving in your career life.
Lee Kantor: [00:20:25] Well, if somebody wants to learn more, have a more substantive conversation with you or somebody on the team or even preorder the book, is there a website?
Alicia Reece: [00:20:34] Absolutely. The website is w w w dot aleesha Derice dot com and its allies, CIA DS and David Reise r e e e c e that. Com.
Lee Kantor: [00:20:49] Well, thank you so much for sharing your story today, Aleesha. You’re doing important work and we appreciate you.
Alicia Reece: [00:20:55] Thank you, Lee.
Lee Kantor: [00:20:56] All right, this is Lee Kantor. We’ll see you all next time on Coach the Coach radio.