Jeffrey Pietrzak is the founder and CEO of Work Exceptional, LLC, a consulting firm focused on providing tailored business and human capital consulting solutions for companies of all sizes.
He has nearly 20 years of experience in various industries, including healthcare, technology, insurance, and retail. He specializes in leadership development, learning and development, organizational development and design, talent development, and human resources.
Jeffrey is a Forbes Human Resources Council member and co-author of the USA Today bestselling anthology “Game On: Leaders Who Last.”
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Jeffrey Pietrzak: I am the Founder and CEO of Work Exceptional, LLC, a consulting firm on a mission to provide tailored business and human capital consulting solutions focused on results accessible to companies of all sizes.
While our company works with all types of organizations and industries, we have a track record of working with small businesses and startups looking to scale successfully. We work with these organizations to build structure, organizational design, human resources, learning and development, and other key components that help organizations grow in a repeatable and responsible way.
I have expertise in Leadership Development, Learning and Development, Organizational Development and Design, Talent Development, and Human Resources. As a Forbes Human Resources Council member, I provide insight through original articles and expert panels. I am a co-author of the USA Today bestselling anthology “Game On: Leaders Who Last.”
As a former Chief People Officer, I have nearly 20 years of working in various industries, including healthcare, technology, insurance, retail, manufacturing, restaurants, hospitality, recruiting, and distribution. I enjoy working at all levels of organizations to learn about needs, bringing my perspective and experience to the table in practical and actionable ways. I think I have a knack for identifying the strengths of others, helping them realize those strengths, and maximizing their abilities to create high-performing work environments.
Areas of specialty include:
Executive Coaching – works with executives of all experience levels, particularly young CEOs looking to grow businesses and experienced executives struggling to connect with younger generations.
Leadership Development – views leadership as the responsibility of working on behalf of the team, removing roadblocks, encouraging diversity of thought, building a culture of trust, fostering leadership in others, and exhibiting the sincerest humility.
Organizational Development – 10+ years performing organizational talent reviews, succession plans, career paths, career development, organizational structure, and organizational design.
Learning and Development – 15+ years of building and delivering professional development, leadership development, role-specific programs, and learning management implementations.
Change Management – project highlight: leading the change management effort of a multi-billion-dollar acquisition.
If you were in an elevator with Warren Buffett, how would you describe your company, services, or products? What makes your company different from others? What is your company’s biggest strength?
Jeffrey Pietrzak: Our company works with organizations of all sizes and budgets. When we work with small businesses and startups looking to scale, we provide solutions around organizational design/development/structure, learning and development, and human resources to ensure long-term and successful growth plans.
We also work with large organizations, building out learning and organizational development resources that lead to high performance, strong employee engagement and retention, and overall well-being at work.
Quiet quitting, The Great Resignation, are an ongoing trend causing many businesses to struggle keeping talent engaged and motivated. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. In your experience, what keeps employees happy? And how are adapting to the current shift we see?
Jeffrey Pietrzak: Employees have wanted to be heard for years; this is not new. Poor leadership, particularly front-line leadership, can destroy a team (or company). Failure to execute at the basic levels of an organization is a recipe for disaster. Poor leadership forces employees to look for the door, leading to underperformance and disengagement from work.
Employees are happy when the work is rewarding (and rewarded), when they are compensated fairly, when there’s a clear path to career growth (with supporting learning and development opportunities), when their manager is capable (or even exceptional), the work environment is pleasant (not toxic), and when an organization exhibits traits of loyalty to staff.
Here is a two fold question: What is the book that influenced you the most and how? Please share some life lessons you learned. Now what book have you gifted the most and why?
Jeffrey Pietrzak: When I think about the psychologically safe environment I want to work in, I think of Adam Grant’s “Give and Take.” I find this book to be an easily accessible read that helps us understand that we do not have to give endlessly to the point of burnout, but we should generally give to others within our organizations. Recognizing the damage caused by someone who “takes” and the indifference of a “matcher” is an important dynamic to understand in today’s work environment.
I often give Holiday’s “The Obstacle Is The Way,” largely because of my endless passion for stoic leadership.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as THE real challenge right now?
Jeffrey Pietrzak: I think businesses face inherently different challenges related to their industry. However, the same challenge all businesses face is related to people. Having the right people, in the right places, at the right time, seemingly is an endless challenge for organizations of all sizes.
Look no further than mass layoffs of notable organizations that realize that irresponsible overhiring, the unpredictability of markets, the ineffectiveness of people, and an aloof approach to hiring are highly problematic.
2020, 2021, 2022 threw a lot of curve balls into businesses on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past years, how can businesses thrive in 2023? What lessons have you learned and what advice would you share?
Jeffrey Pietrzak: Please don’t hire fast/fire fast. Please don’t hire slow/fire fast. Please build an organizational design and structure that creates a repeatable and predictable approach to growth without facing difficult decisions around layoffs in the future.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Jeffrey Pietrzak: My business superpower would be the same as my personal superpower, and it’s not super at all. I work tirelessly to not dwell on the past and not to fear the future, as I have no interest in robbing myself of the joy of the present. I’m still a work in progress.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Jeffrey Pietrzak for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Jeffrey Pietrzak or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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