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Sanya Strawser, Founder, People Factor LLC

Sanya Strawser has worked in the people industry for over 20 years and has experience in local and global markets. She is a Master Certified Executive Coach with a passion for inspiring people to take action to improve their work lives and has recruited high level executives, revitalized company cultures, and led leadership initiatives, as well as taught leadership. In June 2016, she combined these skills and founded People Factor, which is dedicated to helping organizations create intentional, productive, and meaningful cultures. They work with companies to assess their culture and provide solutions where needed.

More about Sanya:

1. Tell us about your professional background.

I have an MBA in Human Resources (Organizational Development), I am a Certified Master Executive and Group Coach, and a trained moderator and group trainer. I have worked worldwide as a professional Human Resources consultant, and most recently for the second largest automotive remarketing company in the country, leading their Employee Engagement and organizational and people development initiatives.

2. What is the mission of People Factor?

We are committed to working with organizations to help them grow the right way through creating an engaged and loyal workforce. It is our goal to get them to a place where employees are committed to the success of the organization and fulfilled in their work.

3. How does People Factor differentiate itself in such a crowded marketplace?

We have found there to be a gap between knowledge of what isn’t working and the ability to find and implement the right solutions. This is where People Factor shines. We go beyond the initial analysis of the company culture, and implement strategic solutions that not only help them create the culture they need, but also give their mission a boost. The ideal case is where we can create maximum positive impact with minimum shift.

4. What are 5 key questions that founders should ask when interviewing people?

A startup culture is unique and requires a certain mindset and approach. It’s important to assess whether they have the right personality and work philosophy to help you succeed. Ask questions that can help you get to the heart of who they are as a potential team member.

1) Why do they want to work for a startup? Are they doing it in the interim until they can get something with a bigger organization? Are they doing it because they’re the entrepreneurial type? - or do they really have an interest in what you are trying to achieve and want to contribute to the success of the organization?

2) Get to the heart of their personality. Are they the type to roll with the challenges and not get rattled? Are they learners? Are they interested in what you do and do they have good questions? I really like it when someone has done research and act as if they’re already excited to join your team.

3) Can they demonstrate that they are self-sustaining, growth oriented, and invigorated by a challenge? Will they roll up their sleeves and take initiative to do any job necessary for the company to be successful? Ask them what they’ve done to demonstrate a high level of initiative.

4) Have they ever worked in an environment where they were able to achieve success with limited resources? Have them share an example. If they are rigid in their thinking and unable to dig in, improvise and succeed, they won’t be good in a startup environment.

5) What is it that they do to mentally realign themselves to stay centered? Do they have hobbies or a health regimen? How do they keep their mind healthy outside of work? If they don’t have good mental habits before working for a startup, they won’t be effective when the pressure is on.

5. What advice do you have for founders too busy to train the new employees they just hired?

Pick one or two priorities that the founder must do (such as the financials or client relations), and allow everyone else into everything else that you’re doing. When you hire them, you have to put your trust in them and let them do what they were hired to do. Many founders will hold information tightly because they don’t want to let anyone else in. Get over that. Trust your team and they will trust you. Amazing things happen when the only thing on your plate is growth.

6. What does an employer do when they realize they hired someone very nice, but, they’re not the right fit for the job?

Startups don’t have the budget to keep the wrong person on. If it becomes obvious that they are not a good fit for what you need them to do, you need to take action. Let them go and move on.

7. How do you create a corporate culture that is inclusive?

If you are entrusting your people with the responsibility and authority to do well in their jobs, it is naturally an inclusive environment.

8. How do you manage your time between selling your business and serving clients?

Getting new business and taking care of your already existing clients is something that a founder enjoys the most. Stay true to your values and beliefs. I believe that your existing clients are the number one priority and a close second to that is growth. Manage your time accordingly. As the founder of a small startup, you have to trust the people you’ve hired and allow them to do their part.

9. What’s next for People Factor?

We are only a year and a half old. We are looking for intelligent growth – which is not just aggressively pursuing new business, but also putting a lot of focus on delivering excellence. We want to establish ourselves as a value based organization that always delivers what we commit to.

10. How have The Startup Ladies helped you grow?

I firmly believe together is better. Being part of a community, especially in the early days of your new company, is essential. While we all struggle with time allocation, it’s great to have a village of people that are in similar situations - with whom you can share your experiences and draw from theirs.

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