One of the biggest motivators to join Veho for Dylan Hannigan, Lead People Business Partner, was the ability to help shape a young company’s culture from the ground up. Check out our interview with Dylan to learn how the People Team can help guide a company’s culture and where he sees it going at Veho.
How long have you been at Veho and what is your role?
I just reached my one-year anniversary in November! I’m a Lead People Business Partner, focused on empowering our Ground Operations communities, partnering with General Managers and Ground Operations Associates across the Midwest, Southwest, and Mountain West. I have been thrilled to get the chance to visit our warehouses, our drivers, and most importantly our people as we continue to grow and meet the challenges together.
What does a People Business Partner do?
We’re the connective tissue between senior leadership and employee communities. I am constantly on calls with General Managers and Operations Managers about what they are facing from a people standpoint, how do we lift engagement, what training needs to be done, and everything that would fall under the traditional HR function in other companies.
We cycle feedback up and down the organization. We are kind of the eyes and ears of the organization. We listen to our employee communities, hear what’s working and what isn’t, and we present solutions to problems to leadership and roll those solutions out. Then we gauge how well new solutions are landing and we provide that feedback upwards towards leadership.
What led you to Veho?
Veho wasn’t even on my radar. Joe Walsh (Recruiting Manager) reached out to me. I had a healthy amount of experience working in logistics, particularly with warehouse teams, at my previous job with the organization Network Distribution, a national network of 150 regional carriers that saw unprecedented growth during the pandemic as one of the primary logistics networks delivering PPE and other medical supplies to US Hospitals.
What sold me on Veho was a bigger role at a brand new company where I’ll have a key role in building the culture. This is a company that’s poised for huge growth and all of the people opportunities that come with that. I’m always looking for what critical experiences will I get out of my new role, will I enjoy working with that company, and will it be worth the time and energy I will put into it? Veho checked all of those boxes.
What are the “critical experiences” you thought you would get at Veho?
For one, It’s a bigger scope. While at my past company I worked with one office building and remote sales teams, at Veho I have three entire regions under my responsibility. That requires me to balance competing needs, think strategically, and think about rolling out initiatives across multiple sites.
Secondly, as opposed to working at a big multinational company where it’s nearly impossible to reshape the culture, I like to think of Veho’s culture as a young plant. It’s going to change and evolve. The People team has the opportunity to act as a trellis and the culture is the plants that grow on it. Our job in the People team is to be that trellis. As opposed to just letting the culture go wherever it wants – we are here to help guide the growth of the plant.
Why do you care so much about employee satisfaction?
We spend so much time at work. A little history: back in school, I was a psychology major who wanted to be a therapist andI had a professor tell me, “Do you know what causes most people to go to therapy? Work.”
His challenge to me was, “can you create an office environment that minimizes the stress that can lead to mental health problems?”
I can make systemic changes that impact everyone, everyday. They don’t just think about it 9 to 5. They think about it before they go to bed and as they wake up: What can I do to make work energizing instead of draining?
Which of Veho’s four values (Human, Ownership, Teamwork, Candor) do you connect with the most?
I know I’m on the People Team so the default answer is “human” but it’s actually “candor.” So much of my job is just being a humble listener, and trying to get those candid responses from people. It’s critical to build mutual trust to have important and impactful conversations. I need employees and leaders to be candid with me in order to do my job well.
Miscommunication sends so many companies in the wrong direction and can fray teams. So it’s important to define what candor is and isn’t because effective communication is so important to our success as a company. Candor is the truth delivered directly, with care and respect, in the hopes of some mutual benefit. Candor is the fuel that will help our business grow quickly, grow the best culture we can, and, as long as we use it respectfully, build us all up together.
I’d like to add one more key element that is critical to getting to candor: trust. Building trust starts with assuming the best in other people, and having a genuine curiosity about others. Trust is a measure of the relationship, that even if I’m giving you a tough message our relationship tells you I’m invested in what’s good for you.
Building trust starts by saying “hi” to another Veho employee you don’t know already. Ask genuine questions about others to learn about them holistically and be a consistent positive source people can count on. You never know what small question or insight or reference will unlock a bond with someone else. Over time you begin to understand each other’s values, motivations, and what is most important to them.
What leads you to believe in Veho’s culture to build a robust future?.
The key is that we have leaders who are invested in it. Ita (Veho’s CEO and co-founder) is so focused on culture, rightly so, because he knows how important strong culture is to a company’s success. The leaders here care what you say and they want feedback. Along the way, as an organization still in its adolescent phase, we are figuring out how best to foster our culture, company-wide.
From a People perspective, what’s the next step for Veho?
We have hit many milestones. While there is plenty of room to grow, don’t lose sight of how far we’ve come. If things did not change as we went from 10 to 30 warehouses, or from 200 to nearly 900 people, I wouldn’t believe it. What comes next is what defines our culture for this next phase. Our tasks include:
- How we prioritize and tackle problems cohesively.
- How we embrace innovation and new ideas, continuing our agile flexibility while standardizing and embracing that we are becoming a larger company. (Try turning a Camry vs. a Semi-trailer)
- As a business we will be faced with challenges not only to our operations but to our values, and how we navigate those open conversations and a healthy bit of grit, those reactions and solutions will define who we become.
At the end of the day, if we remind ourselves to actively “assume positive intent” when we are working with each other, to remind ourselves that everyone is working hard for our collective success even when we disagree or have a bad day, that is the glue that keeps cultures together when things get tough.