Lisa Schenk

Lisa Schenk is an executive coach and consultant with over 20 years experience helping people be successful in the world of work. A Ph.D. in organizational communication and 5 years with McKinsey & Co. honed Lisa’s interest in shaping organizations for optimal human outcomes. Over the last 12 years, Lisa has been on the faculty at the Annenberg School and the Marshall School of Business at USC, a guest lecturer at Northwestern University and the Drucker School of Management, and the head of Talent at LRW, a Los Angeles-based market research firm. She lives in the foothills of Pasadena with her husband and two kids and spends her free time creating raw food delicacies to share with friends and colleagues.

Why does the world need a work revolution? (In other words: the way we’re working isn’t working. Why not?)
I’m not sure this list is perfectly MECE (a fairly useful consulting acronym that stands for Mutually Exclusive & Collectively Exhaustive), but these stand out to me as the biggest reasons that, in spite of great effort on the part of many well-meaning managers and HR professionals, work still too often sucks.

  1. Market and financial forces encourage a sheer amount of work that is unsatisfactory and unsustainable for most people
  2. Hierarchy, by it’s very nature, infantilizes perfectly capable adults who effectively manage meaningful and complicated lives outside of work
  3. Organizational roles are made for tasks (and functional structures), not people with varied strengths, interests, and capabilities
  4. Lack of self-compassion leads us to have little or no compassion for others in our work lives

How are you or your organization reinventing work in some way (big or small)?
As the head of talent for a mid-sized professional services firm, I have the opportunity to put many principles of the work revolution to the test. We have articulated an employee value proposition designed to ensure that everyone thrives. We have developed a leadership “experience” that focuses on understanding yourself as key to managing others. And we are now looking to replace traditional performance reviews with something that focuses more on people’s strengths than their weaknesses.

Why do you do what you do?
Since my first job out of college, I couldn’t accept that people would spend the bulk of their precious time in jobs that suck. I could not then, and do not now, accept that as a condition of “work.” Now I help individuals and organizations create environments and relationships that allow everyone to thrive personally and professionally.

What kind of art (any kind) do you like and why? Any recommendations we should know about?
Well, I’m at a music festival as I write this (Hardly Strictly Bluegrass). I love the inspirational music, the community, and the beauty of Golden Gate Park all in one event!

What is one specific thing your company does that makes your culture unique and/or different?
We have what we call an “Opportunity Culture” and I have countless examples of times when we have given someone an opportunity to try something new or step into a new role fully willing to support them whether it goes well or not!

What is one discipline/industry totally different from your own that has inspired you? How does it impact your work?
I am a big fan of the law of attraction. While I never say it this way, I often feel that my coaching work is about helping people to attract the life that they are truly meant to have.

What’s one tangible and concrete technique other organizations should use if they want to create a more human and/or meaningful place to work?
They should use the Strengthscope assessment to understand what energizes people and then build roles and processes to support those strengths. Not only will this make the workplace more humane, but it will enable greater productivity, creativity, and ownership.

What does your preferred work environment look like?
I like to work anyplace but an office! Coffee shops, beaches, pool-side, really anywhere with an enticing or inspiring aesthetic.

What do you do for fun?
I love anything that brings my attention to the moment. Right now, that includes things like white water rafting, skiing, and entertaining at home with my husband.

How do you stay productive throughout your day?
I don’t do Facebook.

Where in the world are you?
Pasadena, California

How can people connect with you?

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