Q & A with SAFEbuilt CHRO, Simone Reynolds

SAFEbuilt, a private equity-backed company based in Colorado, provides community development solutions to more than 500 cities and towns across the United States, helping them to build vibrant, thriving communities. The firm is growing rapidly due to its commitment to delivering best-practice services and forging deep partnerships with municipalities.

SAFEbuilt recently hired Simone Reynolds as its first Chief Human Resources Officer to lead the charge in developing a top-notch workforce through hiring and acquisition in order to meet explosive demand.

Gatti: Why were you drawn to SAFEbuilt?

Reynolds: I’ve focused my 20+ year career in service businesses, where people are the company’s most important asset and HR plays a strategic versus a support role. SAFEbuilt’s product is its workforce and therefore, HR takes on a critical “R&D” function – diagnosing workforce issues and values and developing and implementing solutions. Employees will make or break the future of our company.

Gatti: What are your priorities?

Reynolds: SAFEbuilt’s goal is to quickly scale the business and deliver sustainable business results. This requires developing human capital. To keep pace, we have a significant hiring target, but the talent we need simply doesn’t exist. That is why we are turning to acquisitions of small businesses as well as hiring veterans and professionals from tangential industries. We must develop and nurture hired and acquired talent to ensure productivity is high and attrition rates are low. Employee satisfaction is important to customer satisfaction and to our future.

Our first priority is identifying the intellectual and emotional characteristics required to succeed in the SAFEbuilt culture. Once we are clear on that, we provide the training employees need to excel in each job function. That’s why our second priority is developing SAFEbuilt Academy. Our corporate university will provide up-to-date technical knowledge and certifications, “soft” skills such as communications, negotiation and time management as well as leadership development. Based on the principles of adult learning, our Academy relies on three channels of delivery: virtual self-paced courses and exams, live webinars and instructor-led classroom learning.

Gatti: What advice do you have for fellow HR leaders working in professional service businesses?

Reynolds: First, immerse yourself in specifics of your business. Understand all the dynamics so you can define success and steps necessary to achieve it.  Second, dive into the financials of the business. That’s how you validate recommended strategies and earn the right to take action. Last, model flexibility for all employees, including your regional and business unit HR Business Partners. Help them figure out how to say “yes” and nourish a culture of we can do this.