BlockStar: Tiffany Scalzitti Monroe, Chief People Officer at H&R Block
Tiffany Scalzitti Monroe became chief people officer at H&R Block in March with a mandate to ensure the company had the people and organizational capabilities to deliver on a new company strategy; elevating talent and culture sits squarely on her shoulders.
“It’s No. 1 for a reason,” said Monroe. “People are the real value of every business, and great people equal a great business.”
Monroe’s mindset echoes that of H&R Block’s co-founder, Henry Bloch, who said, “Great companies have one thing in common: great people.”
Elevating H&R Block’s talent and culture is not about building from the ground up. The company has been around since 1955, and Monroe said its culture is solid.
“This is a pretty fantastic company. I have nothing but excitement about joining this company. We’re in a really good place and can only get better,” said Monroe.
Bigger, better, faster
But just because H&R Block’s leadership team believes the culture is already solid, doesn’t mean there’s not a big vision for improvements.
“Our culture has been to embrace and run because we love this brand and what we represent. That’s an asset we have as a brand. But we need to challenge ourselves every day to think bigger, open it up and ask what if there was no limit? That is a skill we need to develop because a lot of people are not built that way no matter what the culture was before,” said Monroe.
Monroe got an unexpected start in HR after deciding legal work wasn’t for her
This kind of opportunity is one a human resources executive at the pinnacle of her career lives for, but not one Monroe expected in her career.
“Since I was basically able to talk, I knew I was going to be an attorney. I rushed through undergrad and finished early to get to law school,” said Monroe. “I got there and thought, ‘oh I don’t want to be an attorney.’”
After graduating from law school, Monroe took a job in human resources just to pay the bills. But she fell in love with it and now, almost two decades later, she’s tackling the opportunity to elevate H&R Block’s talent and culture.
Changing culture by identifying and working on core behaviors
Monroe started by identifying core behaviors that will not only elevate talent and culture, but also help the business achieve its other goals around the new strategy, like winning on customer experience and investing for the long term.
“Over the last several weeks, teams throughout H&R Block have been working hard to integrate our behaviors into all areas of our business,” said Monroe. “As chief people officer, I am dedicated to ensuring the behaviors are a part of every associate’s H&R Block experience – from the time they interview, to the time they are onboarded, to their further development into H&R Block superstars.”
Some of the behaviors have been a major focus of the company for generations, like being customer-centric, but raise the bar on how the company and its associates embody the behavior. Others expand on existing behaviors. Being passionate or curious encompasses more than obsessing over taxes and getting clients their maximum refund; it also means embracing the need for change and the quest for excellence, and constantly seeking knowledge.
Personalizing culture change and taking ownership
In addition to integrating the behaviors into the company’s hiring guides and the rewards and recognition program, Monroe is also enlisting the people who make H&R Block what it is.
“You have to live this every day. Think of how you’re achieving what you’re achieving. We’re all responsible for elevating talent and culture,” said Monroe. “It should be personal to all of us.”
Monroe encouraged associates to think about it personally by doing so herself. In a podcast for associates, Monroe identified her own strengths and opportunities. She said she is straightforward and determined, but especially as someone relatively new to the business, has room to grow in being customer-centric.
“Share your strengths and opportunities with people. If people know that you know yourself, it makes it a lot easier for them to give you feedback,” said Monroe. “I’m seeing this openness in embracing our collective strengths and opportunities throughout the company – a sense of vulnerability that only makes us stronger and is going a long way in ensuring we are truly better together.”
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