HROS Community Spotlight: Meet Talia Edmundson - HR Open Source
Hey everybody - let's meet Talia Edmundson. If you love motorcycles and anything related to motorsports then you will be super envious of her cool job! Talia is the HR leader for RevZilla, a Philadelphia-based motorcycle gear retailer that dominates the e-commerce space and has just about the neatest YouTube channel in the history of YouTube. (61.5m+ views)
Who IS Talia?
I’m a delighted wife, a shoe fiend, fantasy football fanatic, dog obsessed, cigar enthusiast, scotchy scotch scotch drinker, and lover of parties with a great theme. As a kid, I wanted to grow up to be be Indiana Jones. I often need to be reminded this is still not a viable option. To offset this unfortunate reality, I travel for great adventures and stay as active as I can.
What’s your role at RevZilla? What does a week-in-the-life look like?
My business card says I am RevZilla’s Human RevSource Manager but we aren’t very title focused around here. It is productive and empowering and I mean that in the most genuine, non-cliched way possible. It’s not some mysterious holacracy voodoo but a productive, no job too small mentality we all have.
A week-in-the-life looks like the never ending quest for discovering the most people-focused way of getting from point A to point B while constantly prioritizing and then reevaluating for the most impactful outcome. I oversee the operational aspects of HR which allows me to help recruit the brilliant, hire hustle, motivate the awesome, and impart wisdom to those who seek HR knowledge, even if that means saying no it’s not illegal, yes that’s too dangerous, and maybe we should have a waiver for that.
I have never seen such a focused, spectacular group of employees, from top to bottom, dedicated to the same cause. RevZilla’s mission is to advance the experience of the motorcycle enthusiast and no it doesn’t hang on a plaque somewhere as a showpiece collecting dust. You can see it as soon as you walk through the office doors. You can feel it when you walk through our fulfillment centers. We live it every single day.
RevZilla has a fascinating history and, even through tremendous growth, keeps culture top-of-mind. How do you do it?
We’re fanatics about how we hire. The process is not for the meek and we don’t compromise. We aren’t the type of company that asks candidates to guess how many cocktail umbrellas you find in Cabo but the interview process is lengthy. It’s interesting working for a company co-founded and completely bootstrapped by three friends. They couldn’t be more passionate and committed and their approach is wildly contagious. Every candidate we meet needs to share that same enthusiasm or they aren’t hired. We use the word “geek” in an affectionate way and we’re all geeks about something -- motorcycles, dogs, HR, video editing, analytics, it doesn’t matter what it is but we need to feel that excitement.
We have an all hands beer meeting every Thursday where we discuss the week’s events, changes in our industry, employee accomplishments, and upcoming company happenings. With a staff size pushing 200, the meeting is a bit of a production to pull off but it’s worth every effort. This meeting was already in place when I joined the company almost 4 years ago but it is a cultural cornerstone.
There is also an unbelievable amount of transparency and sharing of info that, in other companies, is typically reserved for closed door meetings or considered need-to-know. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not a free for all of company details but without sharing the company’s overarching goals and then providing updates on how it’s all going, how the heck do you expect your workforce to buy in? It doesn’t make any sense. We openly share lessons learned as well. It’s equally as important to acknowledge missteps as it is to celebrate wins. Since the very beginning, our Co-Founders have embraced the need to share direction and clarity and show no signs of dialing it back.
You’ve undertaken some employer branding initiatives over the previous 12 months. Why was this important for RevZilla and what are some things you’ve done? What are some results you’ve seen?
Putting RevZilla out into the employment universe is pretty easy. Once applicants find out about the halfpipe, hoverboards, catered lunch, annual paintball outings, and ongoing list of events that support our work hard, play hard motto, they want to work here. We had over 1,200 applicants, over 3 months, for 25 open positions in our Fulfillment Centers; 1,200 applicants!
Last month, we received the honor of winning Philly.com’s Top Workplaces. After hitting the number 2 spot for 2015 and 2014, we were finally number one! This was huge for several reasons but considering our staff size pushed us from the small business category to medium, we were so proud our employees recognized our continued commitment to responsible growth. In return, they give us commitment to service excellence. If you don’t manage your brand, it will be defined by others.
I wish I could take credit for more of the employment branding but our employees handle that on their own. They are unapologetically energetic about working for RevZilla and proud to tell the world. I smile every time I see #myjobisbetterthanyours or #myjobdoesnotsuck as Instagram captions. It never gets old.
What are some cool HR, Talent Acquisition or Leadership things you’re working on with your team or within the company?
Competing in Top Workplaces and similar events pushes us to take a critical look at ourselves and ask how we can keep getting better. Employees are an obvious source of feedback and I’m confused by HR folks who are afraid to ask questions. We recently completed a series of engagement forums; conversations focused specifically on what keeps employees excited, where they want to be further challenged, and even possible retention triggers. It’s a simple exercise and the info we receive is incredibly useful. Why wait until your employees leave to find out why? Start ahead of time and increase retention by asking questions. Just be prepared for answers that aren’t covered in rainbow jimmies, or sprinkles if you’re not from around here.
The greatest endorsement I have ever received about my team came from an employee who said, “HR does a great job of keeping the stupid out.” I never really asked what he meant by “stupid” but it was great to know everything we work toward fosters an environment that supports one of our Core Values, No BS. We do a great job keeping the fluff out. There’s no compliment sandwich to hide the fact that something isn’t working.
How do you stay inspired, get new ideas, or learn from others?
The first HR department I ever worked in had doors that were only accessible by swipe badge. How in the world do you establish credibility and gain the trust of your people by hiding? That’s where I realized the type of HR professional I needed to be; available, visible, honest, and human. People forget the human part.
It took me awhile to put myself out there. I had gone to a few networking events and found it difficult to relate to other HR professionals. I’m aware of how terrible that sounds but the reality is, even before I found RevZilla, I couldn’t connect. I refused to be complacent and join the complaint circle of not having a voice or a seat or <insert detrimental HR speak here>. Show you deserve to be heard and then get invited to the party. It might take longer than you’d like but you don’t get to give up.
I read, I listen, and I’m open. I admit when I don’t know the answer but I’m also ready to figure it out. I’m inspired by folks with approaches that are similar to mine because I learn about ideas that seem unconventional yet I’m fortunate enough to work for a company who celebrates fresh perspective. RevZilla gives me the freedom to master of my craft in an environment that is as special as it sounds.
You can connect with Talia on LinkedIn.