How do you design a winning team? How do you scale that design across the organization, so that the productivity soars and your culture thrives? HR Answerbox’s expertise guides and advises you through the entire process. Led by Amanda Haddaway- Managing Director, Lead Consultant, and Trainer, HR Answerbox keeps you in compliance, helps you resolve employee relations issues, and gives you peace of mind so you can focus on growing your business. Communication is key, whether it’s her internal team or the client teams she works with. Since Amanda does a lot of employee relations work, one thing that she observes in most co-workers and employee/manager disputes is a breakdown in communication or the parties having diﬀerent communication styles.
Key Management Areas
In her early career, one of the jobs that piqued Amanda Haddaway’s interest was a position for a junior recruiter within the HR department. She interviewed internally and started in that role soon after. As they say, the rest is history. With that same company, she had opportunities to do professional-level recruiting, as well as college recruiting. She also spent some time working in employee communications and learning and development.
As an HR director, Amanda oversaw recruitment, orientation and onboarding, beneﬁts administration, training, employee relations, and compliance. She also had some responsibilities for marketing and IT.
“Things don’t always go as planned and the world of work is changing and evolving at a pace that’s faster than ever.”
HR Answerbox receives a lot of requests for manager training. This is typically oﬀered as a one-day onsite course. In the training, the company covers topics like communication and feedback, how to have diﬃcult conversations, engaging and motivating employees, delegation and prioritization, and many other key management areas. For some clients, the company also gets into more tactical management skills like interviewing and performance evaluation. Sometimes, it includes information on what managers need to know about employment law.
HR Answerbox’s services include HR advisory support for things like performance management and employee relations situations. The team is often called to work with organizations to conduct workplace investigations. The company has partnered with law ﬁrms on this, too.
Some of HR Answerbox’s smaller clients don’t have the luxury of having an HR department, so they reach out to the company anytime they have an HR-related or employee management question. The organization tries to build close professional relationships with all of its clients so that they think of them as a part of their team who is available on-call when something comes up. Amanda would much rather have a client call and ask these types of questions to advise them on best practices before they take action versus going about a situation improperly and then having to ﬁx something after the fact.
Amanda Haddaway tries to be as open and accessible as she can with both her team and her clients. Some of Amanda’s work takes her out of town and working on client sites, but she tries to be as responsive as possible. She always wants others to feel like they are valued in their interactions with her and that she genuinely wants to help them solve their problem. “Through that process, we came up with a brand statement that describes who we are and what we value: People Focused. Purpose Driven. Creative Problem Solvers,” says Amanda.
Right Place at the Right Time
Amanda Haddaway thinks that the entrepreneurial spirit must be genetic because both of her parents were in business for themselves, and her grandmother also owned a restaurant at one point in time. She also sees them as inspiring role models.
Amanda’s mom’s background is in human services, and she ran a successful social work practice with another practitioner before spending her later career in management for the Army and Department of Justice. Amanda’s work ethic comes from her mom, too. Amanda remembers tagging along on many business meetings, community college courses that her mom taught, and business trips when Amanda was a child. Her mom is not afraid of hard work, there was a period of time where she was juggling three jobs at once. Amanda is actually not sure how her mom did it and parented her at the same time.
When you’re exposed to the value of work at an early age, it shapes your perceptions of what’s expected of you as an adult. It was very clear that her parents expected her to graduate college in four years and leave JMU with a full-time job paying wages and beneﬁts to support her. Luckily, that all worked out for Amanda.
Many of the opportunities Amanda has been aﬀorded along the way have been a little good luck and being in the right place at the right time. She’s also a little impulsive about raising her hand and volunteering for things.
Optimizing Talent into Business Strategy
The ﬁnal piece of Amanda Haddaway’s current role is, working to build out the talent optimization practice. HR Answerbox became a certiﬁed partner of the Predictive Index late last year and it is starting to build momentum around this new oﬀering. If you’re not familiar with PI, it’s a platform that helps your organization optimize talent—from translating your business strategy into people terms to hiring the right candidates. When Amanda initially saw the tools and software demo, she was blown away. After working in HR for 20 years, it takes a lot to impress her, and she was so excited that the team took the steps necessary to oﬀer these tools to its own clients.
Crucial Part of the Work
The other main part of HR Answerbox’s work is training. The training topics cover HR, management, and essential skills. In light of today’s environment, anti-harassment training has become one of the most requested topics. Amanda Haddaway is on a onewoman mission to make antiharassment training better. There are a lot of really dated and poorly done online training options on this topic, so many employees dread their mandatory training. Amanda takes great pride in the fact that the company repeatedly has people come up after training and say things like, “I thought this was going to be boring, but I actually learned something, and it was enjoyable.” There are ways to make dry topics, like compliance, engaging, and enlightening. Her goal is always to provide the best training experience for the learners while still covering the key points requested by the client.
At the end of 2019, HR Answerbox launched New Manager Bootcamp, which is a 10-week virtual learning experience for new managers and those managers who may not be new, but they were never formally trained for their management role. In most companies, people get promoted because they are good at their jobs, not necessarily good at managing people. There are data that show that only about 10% of all managers intrinsically know how to manage without any special training. The other 90% are left to their own devices, and that’s not always a good thing. Managers are often the biggest liability for an organization because of their level of responsibility, so it’s imperative that companies invest in proper training and professional development for their front-line leaders.
Own Consulting Practice
At the end of 2015, Amanda Haddaway left the role of HR director to launch her own consulting practice, HR Answerbox. She had done some freelance work over the years, and it got to a point that she needed to either back away from some of those projects due to time constraints or pursue it more fully. Amanda decided to leap. HR Answerbox oﬃcially opened for business on January 19, 2016. When she thinks back to those ﬁrst few months in recruiting, She didn’t know anything! All of those skills were learned on-the-job, with some trial and error and a little hard work. Her ﬁrst manager in HR, Kerri Morehart, took good care of Amanda’s professional development and introduced her to the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM). SHRM has been key in her professional development over the years, and Amanda is still a member, almost 20 years later. She now serves in a volunteer leader capacity and conducts contract training for some of their educational programs.
People Focused. Purpose Driven.
“When you start a company, it’s fairly common to bootstrap the funding, and that’s what I did. I successfully paid back the personal accounts during the ﬁrst year of business, but I was super conservative with spending. Due to frugality, I waited on a professional logo and branding until year two. I worked with an exceptionally talented graphic designer and went through an entire brand identity process,” says Amanda. Through this process, HR Answerbox came up with a brand statement that describes who we are and what we value: People Focused. Purpose Driven. Creative Problem Solvers. The company’s mission is simple: to create better workplaces. The company values include authenticity, consistency, responsiveness, quality work and is focused on results & problem-solving.