Q&A with Lisa O. Armstrong
Brief background of your business:
Founded in 1898, Bechtel is one of the most respected global engineering, construction and project management companies. Bechtel is designing and building the world’s largest radioactive waste treatment plant for the U.S. Department of Energy at the Hanford Site in southeastern Washington state.
The Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, also known as the vit plant, will immobilize some of the chemical and radioactive waste stored in underground tanks using a process called vitrification. Visit hanfordvitplant.com.
Number of employees you oversee: 10
How did you land your current role? How long have you been in it?
I landed my current role by saying “yes” to opportunities that pushed me out of my comfort zone, asking for and receiving constructive feedback and hard work. I’ve been in my current role almost two years.
Why should the Tri-Cities care about workplace diversity?
Building an inclusive and diverse culture where employees feel valued, challenged, motivated and treated fairly is the right thing to do. Additionally, dozens of studies have shown that diversity is just good business – it increases creativity, innovation and better problem-solving. One study by Katherine Phillips, a professor at Kellogg School of Management, shows that by even adding one employee from a different background can get people out of their comfort zones and thinking differently about a situation.
What is the biggest challenge facing human resource managers today?
Identifying, hiring and retaining highly skilled technical professionals. Human resource professionals must be resourceful, timely and experts at marketing their companies to potential employees.
What advice would you give someone in a leadership position for the first time?
Keep it simple, take time to say thank you and sincerely appreciate your team members for their contributions. It’s as simple as a text message, an email or a Post-it note on their computer.
“The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” — William James.
Who are your role models or mentors?
I have several role models. The most influential role models were my parents who exhibited and taught me the importance of integrity, resilience, love/kindness, humility and good work ethics.
How do you keep your staff motivated?
Show appreciation, be supportive and a good listener — always be open to change and new ideas from team members.
How did you decide to pursue the career that you are working in today?
I started my career as an environmental chemist. But, I quickly realized that I was not a good fit in the lab environment. By having good mentors who provided excellent career coaching, we figured out that I could use my technical skills, talk and meet new people by becoming an employee concerns investigator. In this role, I came to realize that I cared about helping people solve quality, health and safety concerns.
Subsequently, using my investigative skills, I became an employee relations and then a human resources manager.
How do you measure success in your workplace?
By setting goals and accomplishing them and helping others accomplish their goals.
What is one characteristic you believe every leader should possess?
Empathy — treat others the way you want to be treated.
What do you consider your leadership style to be?
Collaborative. I recognize the importance of connecting and aligning people to organizational goals by developing cross-functional work relationships.
What’s your best time management strategy?
Start my day off with prayer and meditation envisioning successfully accomplishing the hardest task on my “to do” list for that day. Starting my day off with gratitude, clarity and focus on how I can help make someone else’s day better is my strategy.
How do you balance work and family life?
I don’t have to balance because both my professional and family life provide opportunities for me to do what I love — helping, serving and challenging people that I love and care about to meet their goals and discover their life purpose.
What do you like to do when you are not at work?
Spend time with family and friends, reading books by Joyce Meyer and “shop till I drop.”
Best tip to relieve stress?
Exercise, practice gratitude and thankfulness daily — there’s always someone worse off than you — be thankful!