Faces of HR

Faces of HR: Adam Weber on Courage, Conviction, and Believing in Yourself

Meet Adam Weber, Chief Evangelist at 15Five, a performance management platform. 15Five’s platform combines coaching and manager training, 360° performance reviews, in-depth engagement surveys, and more to help HR leaders deliver better business outcomes.

Adam Weber
Adam Weber

Weber also previously co-founded Emplify, an employee engagement measurement platform, and Bluebridge Digital, a mobile app platform. He sold the companies in 2020 and 2016 respectively.

Additionally, he is the host of 15Five’s HR Superstars podcast, and author of “Lead Like a Human,” a leadership and culture book.

We recently connected with Weber to discuss how he got his start in the industry, his biggest influences, and best mistake.

The lesson? Always listen to your own voice.

“My biggest mistake is not trusting myself,” Weber shared with HR Daily Advisor. “I had a lot of doubt early in my career. When it came to some big hiring decisions, rather than trusting my own vision of the company and context of the business, I listened to other voices. I do think there is so much wisdom to be gained from others, but the lesson for me was to not listen blindly, and rather, hear their context and then apply it to my own unique situation. Ultimately, each situation is unique, and you have to stand behind your own choices, so believe in yourself!”

In our latest Faces, meet Adam Weber.

How did you get your start in the field?

About 10 years ago, companies were prioritizing culture, but most of the decisions about their culture were made using intuition and gut feeling. Even topics as critical as reducing regrettable turnover, driving employee engagement, and increasing company performance were anecdotal. So, I co-founded an employee engagement measurement company called Emplify that set out to quantify engagement and guide executives on how to build highly engaged, high performance cultures.

While leading at Emplify, an engagement company, it was critical for our employees that our own culture was world-class and that the team viewed our culture as a natural extension of our views of what is possible at work.

As the Chief People Officer, I viewed my job as two-fold: first, build an innovative best-in-class culture that lived out the values we were coaching others to embrace, and second, transparently share what I was working on with other HR leaders.

Who is/was your biggest influence in the industry?

Nothing has influenced me more than my thousands of conversations with other HR leaders who feel stuck. These are people who got into HR to help make the world of work better and constantly feel blocked and relegated to administrative work.

I have spent countless hours learning about what is blocking them through meaningful conversations, and I’m committed to helping them do the work of their dreams.

I’m also influenced by companies and leaders that seem to have cracked the code for building both high-performance teams and world-class cultures. It gives me confidence that human centered leadership isn’t at odds with high performance, but in fact is its most critical component.

What’s your favorite part about working in the industry? What’s your least favorite part, and how would you change it?

My favorite part about working in the industry is making work a more meaningful, fulfilling part of employees’ lives at scale. We spend so much of our life working, and any work that makes a person’s life better in turn makes society better.

My least favorite part is watching HR leaders get stuck in administrative, reactive roles where they don’t feel in control of their work and are dealing with burnout and mental health challenges.

It sounds like through your experience you really care about people, and you want to help them feel safe and comfortable, which is important in the industry. Please elaborate here.

I think I’m like many in HR. I got into this function to try to transform the world of work and do my part to make the world a better place. I believe all human beings, regardless of industry and job level, should be able to find fulfillment in their work and be viewed as a whole person worthy of dignity.

I also believe employees hold the solution to most company problems. Empowering companies with systems and rhythms to gather employee feedback is foundational to creating healthy cultures.

How can HR most effectively demonstrate its value to the leadership team?

For HR teams to transition from an administrative to a strategic function, they must speak the language of the business. That entails understanding how the business makes money, learning its top three objectives and mapping the HR strategy to those objectives.

Whatever the business cares about should be central to the HR strategy.

Then when building the HR strategy, use performance and engagement data to pinpoint where to focus and what to do. This will give the HR leader conviction to pitch their strategy and will give executives confidence in the value HR is creating for the business.

Simply put, an HR strategy that doesn’t impact those core business outcomes will not be able to meaningfully demonstrate value at the highest levels of the business.

Where do you see the industry heading in five years? Or are you seeing any current trends?

Right now, the function of the Chief People Officer is still being defined and solidified. I think in five years, this will be a standard, critical function for all executive teams. I also think the redefinition of the HR function will be solidified. This will all be expedited by AI, which will take over many of the laborious, administrative tasks within HR while freeing people up to do more meaningful, rewarding work.

What are you most proud of?

I’m proud of the transparency I am bringing to accelerate change in the HR industry. I’m committed to utilizing my role as host of 15Five’s HR Superstars podcast to lift the curtain on the best of the best in HR and give access to everyone to learn from the most experienced, strategic HR leaders out there.

I also am trying hard to take what can feel daunting (reimagining the HR function) and make it feel bite-sized and manageable.

Do you have any advice for people entering the profession?

Choose the company you work for based on the leader you would be working for. Early in your career, the more you can learn from someone you respect, the faster you will grow.

Also, build the muscle of prioritization as early as possible. Resist the urge to be reactive. Write down your top two priorities every single day and honor those.

Anything else you’d like to add? We can talk about anything you’d like to discuss here.

One of the biggest things that separates good HR professionals from the great ones is that they show courage when pitching their ideas to the executive team. I’d challenge everyone to be strong and courageous to stand up for what you know the business needs.

Be willing to build compelling business cases. Be willing to debate your ideas and even push through an initial no. Most innovative ideas started with a no. Innovation and pushing the industry forward doesn’t happen easily.

It takes conviction and belief to gain the buy-in from others.

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