Cerius Journeys: Meet Sheryl Moore

Denise Montgomery: Welcome to Cerius Journeys. I’m Denise Montgomery and this is Sheryl Moore. Hi!

Sheryl Moore: Hi. How are ya?

Denise Montgomery: I’m amazing. How are you? 

Sheryl Moore: I am doing well. 

Denise Montgomery: Nice. So we are talking with a lot of temporary and part-time and fractional executives in lots of different verticals and spaces and functions about how they work with organizations in crises and transitions.

And, we received your name and I wanted to chat with you about the journeys that you help people go on as they lead organizations. So I just wanted to ask you in general to give us a quick overview of who you are, who you work with.

Sheryl Moore: I am a SHRM senior-certified HR professional with over 20 years of progressive experience supporting a diverse industry such as economic development, finance, manufacturing, real estate, and [00:01:00] entertainment, just to name a few.

I also hold certifications as a business coach, talent manager, and in real estate sales, an associate’s degree in general studies, and anticipate the completion of my bachelor’s degree this year and human resource management with the hope to attend law school in the spring for employment law. 

Denise Montgomery: Wow. So you are ambitious and you have so many interests.

Sheryl Moore: Well, the real estate thing is just fun. I love home. So that was just having that. But being a talent manager and a business coach is all related to employment law and HR. So it was just one of those things to add. 

Denise Montgomery: Now, that leads me right into my next question, which was how did you get to the place where you do what you do now on a temporary interim fractional basis [00:02:00] as an executive? How did you get here? Tell us your story. 

Sheryl Moore: Well, I’ve always worked in traditional HR roles for large corporations. I actually started working as an HR assistant many years ago for a large corporation out in Palm Springs with wind turbines that you see and that are well known. I started there.

And so from there, one position led to the next. But what brought me to this is that I worked for a current PEO and you have the opportunity to work for so many different businesses and company industries, and it’s so exciting. So I thought, “I love this opportunity to go work for a company and help them consult and get them up to where they need to be.”

And so that’s what brought me on to, “Let’s look into something that’s serious.” 

Denise Montgomery: All right. So, one of the questions that I’ve been asking [00:03:00] everybody is, was it a combination of the school of hard knocks, school of learning on the job? Was it an actual school? How did you learn to do that thing you do? 

Sheryl Moore: It was on-the-job training. School is awesome and great, but all of those 14 or 15 competencies that I kind of learned in HR training didn’t prepare me for some of the actual hands-on experience that was actually working for organizations. 

I worked for Bear Stearns when they had that huge divestiture and we were under JP Morgan’s wing. So dealing with all of that, I had to learn right away. 

When I started, I was a senior recruiter and they were like, “Oh no, you’re now an HR business partner with this many clients’ businesses.” [My thought process was,] “Oh, okay, well, let’s see how this is going to work.” So getting that hands-on experience, being in those offices with those senior leaders, and just dealing with the fallout that came from that. And [00:04:00] then obviously the progression that came next.  

Denise Montgomery: So crisis is no stranger to you, is what you’re saying? 

Sheryl Moore: Not at all. So they’re like “pandemic?” and I say, “Oh, okay. I think I can take this on.” 

Denise Montgomery: So, it’s been the elephant in the room and pretty much every one of the journeys that we’ve talked about. And the emerging theme that I’m hearing from every fractional leader that I talked to is that leadership looks different during times of crisis than it does during steady-state normal operations. And from an HR perspective, could you speak to that a little bit? 

Sheryl Moore: Well, it’s so trying because this is an unprecedented time.

So, this is not something where, “Oh, I had an employee relations issue and how do I deal with that?” This is, “We don’t know what’s going to happen next.” Laws are changing by the minute. And it’s an epidemic. People are sick. You’re [00:05:00] trying to deal with an employee – for those essential businesses – who is coming in and may become ill or have a family member become ill or pass away.

So you’re dealing with the grief of that. But meanwhile, you’re still trying to run a business, right? And you don’t have all the answers. So you’re like, “Where do I go from here?” 

And then for those who were not essential and had to lay off people that worked for them for 20, 25 years, and now you have to tell someone, “Oh no, we’re laying you off, or furloughing you”, but you also have to deal with losing your own businesses.

I deal with a lot of companies, restaurants that have had to close because they don’t offer take-out or what have you. And just hearing their stories and just trying to be there for them in the day-to-day. They’re calling you at all hours of the night because they want to make sure they make the right decision for their business and their employees, helping them fill out their loans and all of that.

So it’s been a real trying time, [00:06:00] but I just know that as an HR professional, they need me right now. That’s just been the focus. 

Denise Montgomery: As a fractional or as an interim – however you’re working with these folks – the fact that they do feel free to call you at all times of the night, that also speaks to a level of trust that’s there. Even though you’re not in-house all the time.

Sheryl Moore: Absolutely. I feel like as an HR professional, it’s important to build relationships that are built on credibility and trust. I think the more consistent you are, your guidance and your followup lead to the client feeling confident in your abilities.

So they see you as not just this HR professional. They see you as a confidant. They see you as someone that they can trust with [00:07:00] helping them make decisions for their business. 

Denise Montgomery: Yeah. And you were especially talking about making the right decisions because I would imagine that those are the questions that are keeping people up at night in a crisis versus when you’re doing average, normal, everyday strategic planning when there’s a little bit more wiggle room because you’re looking down the road three years versus three weeks or three months.

Sheryl Moore: Absolutely. Because there’s time there, and steps there with the strategic succession planning and workforce planning. You can make moves, laws are already in place that are set in stone. But here, you’re learning as you go and you’re trying to do the best you can for your company and your employees.

Denise Montgomery: From your perspective, what do you or other fractional outside eyes bring to the table in times like this that might not be there for small and [00:08:00] medium-sized businesses otherwise. 

Sheryl Moore: I think a lot of the companies that I’m working with, some of the smaller organizations, they didn’t necessarily have the leadership team in place because they do what they do, whether it’s a small restaurant or what have you, and they didn’t necessarily have someone there to show them the steps to do things. 

So having someone from the outside come in with the expertise of the laws, someone that’s staying abreast of what’s going on and kind of guiding them to make the right decisions is key.

Denise Montgomery: I was hoping maybe you could walk us through an instance with one client in particular and just show us what that engagement looks like from the beginning to the end from when you walk in the door and then you look around and you talk to people and here was the problem and this is what you did with them, and this was what the work looked like. Do you have [00:09:00] one of those? 

Sheryl Moore: I do actually! I have a current client now. They’ve been around for over 30 years. They’re a family-owned business with four sons that work in the business.

They actually had an HR leader who was very green, new to HR. She had a lot of great qualities but they wanted someone to come in and train her and get her to the next level.

The first thing I always do is an assessment of the business: “Where are you, what are your policies, where are you with the laws?” Then it’s, “Are we paying people to the right extent?” So there are all of those [00:10:00] different elements under HR, maybe you see things that need to be changed because they possibly violate the law. So we dig into that.

This particular client worked a lot with his sons. Not a lot of people have had a lot of outside knowledge, so there was a trust factor that had to be established and the walls had to be broken down. He didn’t trust anyone because he kept getting information that was inaccurate. So some of the decisions that he was making were based on things that were not correct. So it was hard to make him trust me. 

As an example, he had an employee handbook, and this employee handbook hadn’t been updated in like 10 years. So mind you now, you’ve got all of these different laws that have come into play. And he was like, “Well, how do [00:11:00] I know that’s really what the laws say?” So I would have to bring information from the department of labor, like the fair labor standards, and even things that I could get from attorneys that I could share with him, just so he could have faith in what I was bringing to the table. 

Over time, I noticed he would ask me questions to see if I had really taken stock into what he’s asking and that I was giving him the appropriate answers. He would only ask a question that he already knew the answer to. And he would be waiting. So if I knew, I would rattle and write off. If I didn’t, I was always honest with him, and I would say, “That’s a great question. I’ll get right back to you.” I would make it my business to get back to him that same day. 

[00:12:00] Right before the pandemic, he told me that I was doing a great job, and mind you, he’s not a person that gives kudos. He has a manager that’s worked for him for 35 years, and he’s never even told them nada.

So, for him to say to me that I was doing a great job, that he appreciates our partnership and that I take the time to get back to him and I follow up – that really meant a lot to me.

So it goes back to what I said earlier about credibility. That’s how you build the trust. 

Denise Montgomery: That’s a great example of figuring out what your client needs to get comfortable with your expertise. Even though you have the expertise, [00:13:00] they have to be comfortable with your expertise. 

Sheryl Moore: They have to be comfortable with it, exactly. Usually, when you’re an HR person, people typically respect the HR role, right? Because you’re the first person they meet when they come on board and, unfortunately, maybe the last person they talk to when they’re leaving.

So usually people trust what you’re bringing to the table. So for him to kind of have that other mindset, it challenged me and in a good way and helped me with my day to day and other clients.

Denise Montgomery: And that’s the best kind of business relationship where it’s a dynamic cycle and you keep learning and learning. Which leads me to another question for you. I was hoping that you could share with us something about one of your mentors and what you learned from them, and then maybe you even taught them something.

Sheryl Moore: [00:14:00] Throughout my life, at each stage of my life, I’ve had different mentors. It’s so hard to just pin down one. Wilma Stope, she was a big mentor for me. She was one of my leaders early on, and she taught me the art of delegation.

When you’re young and in HR, you want to do everything because you want to seem like a star. And so she would always say, “Listen, you can be a Jack of all trades, but you’re going to be a master of none cause you can’t do everything. You gotta learn to share your knowledge. Maybe help someone else grow as well.” 

So I was like, “Oh, okay. You’re right.” Cause I’d be like, “Oh, I’ll take it. I’ll take on this assignment and do everything right.” So that class, she taught me that. 

And then I had another mentor, Mary Kay Manning. She was a great leader at JP Morgan Chase. She just taught me [00:15:00] to believe in my own abilities.

There was this quote that she would always say to me, “The most powerful words in the universe are the words that you say to yourself.” So when I would say, “Oh, I can’t do this,” she would always ask me, “Why are you saying that to yourself?”

You can accomplish what you put your mind to. Even to this day, I’ll send her a message on LinkedIn and she’ll always come back with some little words of encouragement. 

And then another mentor for me would be Stacy Grovnor. She does triathlons. I think she won second place in Zurich once. She’s such an athlete. Anyway, we work together and she always tells me to create a to-be list, not a to-do list. 

[00:16:00] I have this little thing on my desk with all these things that I have to do. And I always have the list, the database, the things that I have to do. She’s always coming into my office and she goes, “Did you do your to-do list? Did you get to your to-do list?” And I’m like, “Hey, you ask me that every day,” and she’s like, “No, you should make to-be lists. So you want to be complete, you want to be this or that, all of these different elements.” And that really changed my mindset. 

So those are just three. There are so many more, but those are the three that just stand out. And whenever I need some guidance or I need a little bit of encouragement, I reach out to those three ladies. 

Denise Montgomery: I Love that. Thank you. And you know what? That leads us to our last question, which I am borrowing. Okay, I say borrow, but I’m brazenly stealing it from the dearly departed James Lipton of the Actor’s Studio. 

[00:17:00] And the question is, if heaven exists, what would you like to hear once you arrived at the pearly Gates? 

Sheryl Moore: So I would like to hear, “Job well done, come enjoy the blessings from what you did while you were on Earth.” Because I think that once you get there, you hear about the gold-lined street. So I want to hear that I did a great job while I was here. I influenced someone, I helped somebody, and so it’s now my time to enjoy all the blessings that we always hear about in heaven.

Denise Montgomery: Couldn’t argue with that. Thank you so much for spending time with us.

Sheryl Moore: Thank you. This was great. This was great to talk to you. Thank you so much. 

Denise Montgomery: Thank you for joining us on Cerius Journeys. For more information, join us at ceriusexecutives.com [00:18:00].

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