Narrator [00:00:00] Creativity and a learning mindset are essential to succeed. Learn how these innovators put these skills to use to become the best in their fields. Welcome to Innovators To Know brought to you by ideamix.
Sam Jayanti [00:00:15] Hi everyone, It’s Sam Jayanti coming to you from ideamix coaching. I’m excited today to be in conversation with Myra Orndoff. Myra, welcome to the show.
Myra Orndoff [00:00:26] Thank you for having me.
Sam Jayanti [00:00:29] So, Myra, I have five quick questions for you about who you are. And if you could, I’d be grateful if you would keep your answers short like a lightning round. So are you ready?
Myra Orndoff [00:00:40] Sure. Sounds good.
Sam Jayanti [00:00:43] So, how would you like to introduce yourself to our listeners today?
Myra Orndoff [00:00:47] I’m Myra Orndorff. I am the mother of four beautiful children, and I work at Capital One, and I am married to a wonderful husband.
Sam Jayanti [00:01:02] Fantastic. Where and in what role do you work?
Myra Orndoff [00:01:07] I am currently working in our technology division at Capital One, and I have had the pleasure of leading our part time program for a couple of years. But I’ve recently accepted a new position driving insights and our product suite that we offer for employees. And then I am still able to work on our part time program as just, you know, my corporate citizenship. So it’s still part of my role.
Sam Jayanti [00:01:42] Fabulous. So this next one is is a yes, no question. Did you ever think about giving up your professional life in favor of your personal life?
Myra Orndoff [00:01:53] Absolutely. There have been two times where I was almost pretty much decided that I was going to give up work for personal life. The first time was right after my fourth child was born and when she would not take a bottle. So I thought I needed to quit work in order to be able to nurse for the second time was during the pandemic when I was doing virtual schooling with my four kids and trying to do my corporate work when everybody else slept.
Sam Jayanti [00:02:25] Yeah. So this is a yes, no question too. Did you, in the end, keep working or give it up?
Myra Orndoff [00:02:32] In the end, both times I kept working and I’m so glad that I did, and I’m so grateful that I was able to.
Sam Jayanti [00:02:41] Last question What do you view as your most fulfilling accomplishment so far?
Myra Orndoff [00:02:49] That’s a tough one to choose between.
Sam Jayanti [00:02:51] It could be more than one.
Myra Orndoff [00:02:53] Yes, I’ll give you two. The top two would be…being a wife and mother, my role in my family, and the other is launching the part time program.
Sam Jayanti [00:03:08] Amazing. So Myra, in getting ready to record this episode with you, thinking about the topics we’re going to delve into took me back to a conversation I had many years ago now with a woman who was at the time in a part time role at a large financial services company in New York City, and the bank was pursuing what I believe they called a role sharing at the time, which was to take a role and sort of split it into two so that two people could share the role part time and in fact insure full coverage while being able to work part time, which made a ton of sense. And about a year after I met this woman, I happened to meet the leader of the team this woman worked part time with. And when I complimented them on the part time working arrangement that seemed for the time, kind of quite revolutionary, they sort of dismissed that, saying that it was not an arrangement that really worked from their perspective or made any sense for the bank to continue to make available to individuals. And I remember at the time feeling a great sense of frustration because what is the number one thing that working parents need? It’s flexibility. And the flexibility can only come from either part time or a hybrid work schedule, which until 2020 was not something that companies were really willing to allow–most companies. So you’ve now not only worked part time at Capital One since 2018, but you’ve in fact helped turn part time work into a successful, scalable model at the company so that more people could have the experience that you’ve had. And in that sense, you’ve come to be a pioneer, an advocacy for part time professionals. Tell us what inspired you to advocate for these roles to be increased within Capital One?
Myra Orndoff [00:05:18] Well, I would say it’s twofold. So the first inspiration was, of course, my own need. I have loved working at Capital One. I’ve been there for almost 16 years. And so it felt like a tragedy to think about having to give it up. But it also felt like a no brainer that if I had to choose between family and care for my child, that I would choose my family. So I had the personal inspiration and then also in my work at Capital One, I had done work trying to support our goals of increasing the diversity. I had done work supporting our goal of driving increases to our diversity of our workforce and to building a culture of inclusion. And so I was able to very quickly when I realized my own need and thought, am I alone or are there others like me? There are a plethora of statistics publicly available. I used the Bureau of Labor Statistics quite a bit to show, hey, there’s a huge portion of the population that wants to work this way, and that population is highly diverse and highly qualified. So, you know, this is something that can appeal to everyone. I’ve been actually surprised by how many men, for example, are taking advantage of the part time program. But 67% of the U.S. college educated part time workforce is women. And so it’s increasing this type of flexibility and the availability of part time positions absolutely has, you know, an even greater benefit to women. So I, you know, was able to draw the connection between, hey, we have this huge need and there’s just huge lack of availability in the workforce. It’s very easy then also to show corporate leadership that this can help you advance your goals of increasing the diversity of your workforce. This can help you, you know, tap into untapped talent pools that our competitors might not be thinking about.
Sam Jayanti [00:07:46] Yeah, absolutely. So when you started working part time, Myra, how did you create a division between work and home? What were the sort of boundaries that you laid down for yourself? I ask this because one of the challenges that emerged during the pandemic and and remote work thereafter is this idea of boundaries. Like in a sense, people got so burnt out working from home because that boundary was incredibly hard to draw.
Myra Orndoff [00:08:21] I have a home life that naturally created some boundaries, which, you know, there are pros and cons.
Sam Jayanti [00:08:31] Kids will do that.
Myra Orndoff [00:08:32] Exactly. At the time they were ten, eight, six and four. And so when they get home from school or when my child care needs to leave for the day, it is very difficult to continue to pay attention to work. And so a lot of the times I feel like when we set ourselves boundaries and then make the decision to give up those boundaries, a lot of times it’s in the moment. And so because I had those children present, it was much tougher to make that decision in the moment because I wasn’t really capable of taking a big meeting or accomplishing a difficult task while the kids were there. And so I had the benefit of kind of being forced to prioritize family in the moment. And then if I wanted to make decisions about changing my boundaries for an important meeting or an important need, that required a little bit more forethought, you know, And so I was able to be I felt like I was able to be more intentional about those boundary decisions.
Sam Jayanti [00:09:48] That makes total sense. Did you when you first started working part time, do you feel that your team that you were a part of was very accepting of that arrangement? Was there any friction when that arrangement started? Tell us a little bit about, you know, how people and organizations are in general averse to change, and it requires adjustment from sort of both sides in a sense. What was that adjustment like?
Myra Orndoff [00:10:20] So I think the general concept is so universally appealing that give some advantage where people think, Well, I want to do this one day also, so let me support you in doing it. But there’s also the human nature of I want to access you when I want you. And so I have always in new relationships, new working relationships, or in a new part time arrangement, because I’ve done part time arrangements on two separate occasions. And so I tried to invest a little extra in the early stages of that relationship and establishing that trust that my intent is to be available, you know, and to be collaborative and to particularly in those really tough moments where, you know, people want to know that they can count on you when the going gets tough. And so any time in a new relationship, it’s important to build that trust. But I felt like I just invested a little bit extra and was really intentional because of the extra impetus of the part time schedule. And that always has really resulted in successful relationships and no complaints from my leaders or partners about the schedule that I choose to work. In fact, over time I have realized that people forget what my schedule is. You know, they don’t have to keep track of it. I keep track of it. Any time you try to schedule time with somebody or contact somebody, everybody is so busy these days. So you say, I can’t talk now. I can talk at this time, you know, and it becomes seamless.
Sam Jayanti [00:12:08] It’s such an important point, I think, that you make, you know, so many times as working parents, the constraint is much greater in a sense, in our own heads than it is for the team that we’re working with. And we’re almost self-conscious about the kind of limits on our time. But being–in the end, what makes someone an effective member of a team is the ability to collaborate and the ability to build trust with the rest of the team that you’re there when necessary. And maybe it’s not, you know, a 12 p.m. on a Tuesday, but it can be at 3 p.m. on a Tuesday or whatever. And that’s such an important really piece of communication on the part of the working parent to build that trust with the rest of the team.
Myra Orndoff [00:13:07] Yes, I think it’s important for the parent and for, you know, any employee. But it also is important for, I think, something leaders can do to create a culture of inclusion for schedule diversity is to set reasonable expectations about availability. You know, we already kind of have it as an acceptable, you know, boundary that you don’t just call people at 10 p.m. at night unless it is a true emergency. So, you know, extending those expectations to just an environment where it’s respected that sometimes you’re not available at any moment from 9 to 5. You know, we do have other obligations, both work and personal and availability. You know, just setting that tone, leaders are well positioned to help there.
Sam Jayanti [00:13:58] Yeah, absolutely. So I want to shift gears a little bit now to your role as a manager, as a leader, and as an advocate for these part time roles within the company. A 2021 research study on working parents found that their top five problems were one: work life conflict. Two: stereotyping. Three: exhaustion. Four: a changing work schedule. And five, the growth opportunities the’ve received in their careers. In having the success with the part time working program that Capital One’s had, and you’ve been such a great part of enabling, some or all of these challenges of working parents are obviously being addressed. So I guess my question is, are there specific structures that you helped put in place as a leader and from a programmatic perspective at Capital One to enable part time work to be successful for the company?
Myra Orndoff [00:15:11] So I’m not sure I understand the connection to your question. Could you give me a little bit more about what you’re looking for?
Sam Jayanti [00:15:22] Yeah. So, it’s such a common–I think the common problems were the ones that we outlined, right? That working parents felt this variety of constraints and issues with respect to their work lives and for the part time working model to be successful, there is an organizational culture and, sort of team ethos that needs to evolve to almost actively address when things like, Oh, you know, this person’s not a great member of the team, she only works part time or he only works part time or, you know, we’re going to change that meeting to be, you know, at 10 a.m. on Friday, on that day when somebody is not available because they work part time. Like, how do you how did you work on changing the team dynamic and the awareness that other full time members of teams within the organization sort of needed to have and develop to accommodate the part time individuals?
Myra Orndoff [00:16:41] So one of the first kind of structural concepts when we were designing this program was that we wanted to have entire teams composed entirely of part timers and ideally with the manager being part time as well. That was based on my own experience as a part timer. You know, I said I fell in love with the model and found it very successful, but I did also notice challenges, and so I wanted to have peers for mutual support. I wanted to have managers to have an intimate kind of familiarity with that. And I thought also having that structure would help elevate, you know, challenges, potential challenges, the visibility of those up to, you know, leaders so that not just one individual was responsible for trying to tackle challenges, but the leaders could be tackling them. The other thing that that did was create this environment where the team was looking for, you know, team meeting schedules that would work for the most people and developing some practices about scheduling. So, for example, the teams started compiling little notes and best practices about how they manage their team calendars. You know, people will have a change in their scheduling needs. You know, things change all the time. And so how often do you change your team ceremonies that you have scheduled every week to accommodate an individual? You don’t want to do it, you know, every time one happens, maybe you want to do it monthly or quarterly. And so they’ve developed some best practices guidance on those things. We launched some training for managers that were going to participate in the program to help initially raise their awareness and anticipation of some of these things. And then we’ve updated that over time with the best practices as they have been developed. And then we also have shared those best practices with leaders and chiefs of staff, organizational roles that have, you know, broad exposure and communications that go out. Because sometimes in our communications we accidentally use exclusive language and we can accidentally, you know, schedule every team fun event in the evening and a lot of people that have schedule constraints that’s not good for. And so trying to just raise the culture of inclusion for schedule diversity–so we’ve shared those best practices pretty broadly. And then also we worked closely with our performance management team in H.R to make sure that managers had a good understanding of what should be the same or what should be different. Like, how do you think about comparing performance between an employee that works fewer hours than another?
Sam Jayanti [00:19:49] Those are such such an important list, I think, of things that you did organizationally to enable this model to work. I mean, the two that really stand out to me are one: starting with almost the entire team being part time, right? So that at least there wasn’t this kind of disparity or dissonance between some people being full time and others being part time. And there was a kind of common understanding of everybody here is working a part time schedule. And so let’s come to the arrangements that we need to make this work for everyone, which is so important. And then the last thing you said about really understanding how to gauge performance as robustly as you would for a full time individual based on KPIs, etc.. But to adjust that approach for individuals who are working part time is hugely important because otherwise you’re sort of comparing apples and oranges and it’s a really unfair comparison.
Myra Orndoff [00:20:57] Yes, I do want to add, though, there’s one additional structural component that we have built that I don’t want to leave out, and that’s a community of part timers, kind of like an employee resource group. And so we think this is a a key component in our strategy moving forward. We don’t want part time roles to always have to be isolated to whole teams. We would like them to be readily available in all areas. [00:21:26]And so in order to still provide that mutual support amongst peers and to raise visibility, we’ve created this community. It started with just part timers, and now we’ve expanded to include others who are working other types of alternative schedules and allies. [20.0s] There are a lot of people that say, I want to support this, you know, because I want to do it one day or because I just see the value. And so that community at now has been just a really great place to share best practices, to, you know, identify challenges together and activate the whole community.
Sam Jayanti [00:22:08] That’s amazing. So you’ve built this community of more and more people in part time roles and their allies over time. Tell us what was hard about getting this started at the beginning. What were the challenges?
Myra Orndoff [00:22:28] Well, one was very personal and that, you know, when you’re told no, I–when I went part time the first time it was because my manager suggested it. The second time that I went part time, I requested it and was told no. And so that was very discouraging. I knew that there was some good reasoning in place. My role had expanded. The role was not easily, you know, reduced in scope. And so I understood. But it was very tempting to say, okay, you know, let me take this career break. Let me just focus on family. There were so manwy good things attractive about that. [00:23:17]But I am so glad that I listened to that little part of me that said, hey, you know, why not just ask? Why not just try and see if you can create a space for yourself and a space for others to make this work. Don’t give up just yet. [20.6s] And so a lot of that just mental and emotional journey on my own was very difficult. And I was called calling executives from across the company pitching this business case. And I got a lot of no’s before I got a yes. And so that was a tough journey. I was–I came within two days of my last day when I–before I found a leader who was willing and able to get creative on my behalf and say, yes, we will bring you over to my organization and we will try it here. So it turned out that that was the head of our women in tech organization. And she was a huge advocate and the whole kind of women’s organization and technology was a really powerful force to help, you know, as we then tried to find leaders who were able to create these teams. So we didn’t have a central budget to say, hey, here’s money to go create a part time team. We had to find leaders who are willing to adjust their own labor strategy and use their own labor money to do this. And so, you know, that part was surprisingly easy. But it was in a time when we were growing a lot and there was a real appetite to just bring in people. And so that was a good point in time to be doing that. Now, as we seek to really scale and grow, we’ve we’ve shown success. We’ve proven that this works on so many dimensions, but there’s still challenges. You know, I was hoping that we would declare success and then everybody would just create tons of part time roles. But there are, of course, still challenges. So, you know, when labor budgets are planned, it’s different in different organizations. But a lot of organizations just think of people in terms of whole numbers. And so that’s the current challenge that we’re trying to work through, is trying to help, you know, look at proportionality there, look at dollars there, and say, hey, we don’t want the individual manager of five people to be penalized if they make one of their roles a part time role. We need to eliminate that friction.
Sam Jayanti [00:26:00] Yeah, that’s such a great point. And kudos to you for keeping going until within two days of your of your last possible day and finding this one person who was willing to go out on a limb and take a risk and try this.
Myra Orndoff [00:26:19] Thank you. It was definitely a trying journey, but I was blessed to have the support of my husband, who just wanted me to be happy and satisfied. And it’s one of those experiences that’s reinforced in my own mind the idea that sometimes our trials are our best moments and our defining moments where you can really figure out what’s important to you and and double down on that.
Sam Jayanti [00:26:50] Absolutely. So, Mara, as you know, at ideamix, we spend almost all of our time on delivering high impact coaching outcomes for as many individuals and organizations as possible so that they can achieve their personal and professional goals. What role has coaching played in your life and career?
Myra Orndoff [00:27:13] So I was very blessed to have a coworker who was learning to become a coach, offered to do some coaching sessions with me and as a help to both of us, you know, to help her practice as a coach. And of course, I benefited tremendously. [00:27:35]I feel like the biggest benefit to me was understanding my own motivations better. [8.0s] I think it is so easy in this life as human beings to–there’s always demands on us and we are built to try to work with others and optimize for the group. And so I will go–and still to this day, even after learning this lesson–I will go stretches of time and, you know, then suddenly realize, hey, why am I doing this? Particularly things that stress me out or don’t seem to be paying off. You know, why am I doing this? Is it really worth it to me? And so that was a short term coaching engagement. But that framework that was used has proven so useful for me to repeat now, in those moments when I see I need some personal reflection, I need to revisit my goals and priorities.
Sam Jayanti [00:28:37] You’re like a perfect ad for coaching in a sense, because it is exactly those frameworks and behavioral change that coaching tries to really help each individual with. And we all kind of come to it in different ways. But the ability to incorporate that for ourselves going forward really changes the way that we look at bumps in the road or problems we encounter because there are always lots of those, but we are able to sort of handle them and tackle them much better as we go forward.
Myra Orndoff [00:29:16] Yes, absolutely. I am really grateful to have those tools. And, you know, while there are, like you said, always bumps in the road, there are always stressful times. And during those stressful times, I particularly am prone to doubting myself. Should I really keep pitching this idea when I’ve already gotten this many no’s? You know, this is a moonshot, you know? So I have a lot of self-doubt in those tough moments. And so having that toolset really helps me say, okay, I’ve been through times like those before, I trust the toolset, let me use it as best as I can, and then I need to go ahead and trust and just trust. And I’m a Christian, and so I trust God, I trust my tools, and I trust my support system that I have around me. And like I said, I have got a wonderful support system. And so we really have to–I particularly really want to make those long shots in life, you know, and really ask for what I need and shoot for it.
Sam Jayanti [00:30:27] Amazing. So last question, Myra, what advice would you give to working parents who struggle with work life balance and as a result, often end up giving up on their careers?
Myra Orndoff [00:30:43] The advice I frequently get–I give, because many people reach out to me within Capital One and say, Hey, how did you do it? How can I? I’m thinking about going part time. I’m thinking about asking for it. And the advice I give is to start–really take a look at what is causing the work life friction and what is already within your control to manage better? Because so frequently you have someone who feels like they can’t handle their workload or they’re working too many hours and their manager doesn’t know about it, they haven’t said, Hey, this is more than 40 hours a week and I need it to be less. We need to pare it down. So I advise people to really take a look at how you’re spending your time. Are there opportunities for efficiency? Are there clear opportunities for things that you would want to cut? And then is the problem that you really need to get down to just 40 hours? You know, is it that you’re working 50 and you want to go to 40 or do you really need to go to 30 or 25? Or would a flexible arrangement work for you so that you can still work 40 but just do it on different timeframes? And then I also advise people that if you are going to request some sort of alternative schedule, really think about how it’s going to enable your manager and your team to accomplish their goals and share that with your manager, but also get a sense for their, you know, their appetite, their concerns in a preliminary conversation, say, I’m thinking about asking for this. You know, what would be your concerns or considerations and then prepare to ask them for a decision. And then even once you ask for the decision, try to make it as easy as possible for them to say, yes, I advise asking for a trial period. And that gives them a built in, you know, sense, you know, a built in way to to end the arrangement if it’s not working out.
Sam Jayanti [00:32:55] It’s such great advice. I think, you know, so often people struggle with, first of all, just the act of asking, right, for a sort of different arrangement. And they feel very isolated, I think, in making that ask, partly because, as you said, they haven’t communicated and shared with their managers and with the rest of their team what the struggles are that they’ve been having. And so that request then kind of comes as a bolt out of the blue when everyone else thought that it was all fine up until that point. And then I think making the request, by displaying and thinking about the considerations of the team, its objectives, its obligations, and how what you’re asking for really fits into that framework is super important because again, it expresses concern for the collective outcomes for the team, not just yourself. And people are deeply appreciative, I think, of that consideration and empathy at the end of the day.
Myra Orndoff [00:34:03] Yeah, I think it really builds confidence that you are invested in making it work and ensuring that the team isn’t going to suffer. I think it’s also really valuable to have a conversation about what’s going to happen if there’s an emergency, you know, a need to make an alteration, if either it’s on the work side or the personal side, how are we going to handle those needs? You know, and have kind of a plan ahead of time because we know that they will come.
Sam Jayanti [00:34:36] Absolutely. Myra, amazing. Thank you so much for being here with us today. We’re so thrilled with the impact that you’ve had and continue to have, both within Capital One but also broadly through these conversations, just like today, because so many organizations, I think, are where you were back in 2018 and where Capital One was back then and struggling to navigate this, not because of a lack of intention, but I think because of the genuine struggle of how do you create the organizational cultural change to make part time work possible and in fact more the norm than simply the exception within within the workplace. And so it’s a really incredible effort. And thank you for joining us today.
Myra Orndoff [00:35:29] Thank you so much for having me. It’s been a real pleasure to speak with you. And I would love to make the offer to any of your listeners that may be trying to build the business case for doing something similar in their organization. Like I said, the components of my business case were largely sourced from publicly available information, and I’d be happy to share some of that information. And I just really enjoyed our conversation today. So thank you so much for having me.
Sam Jayanti [00:35:58] Thank you.
Myra Orndoff [00:36:00] All right.
Narrator [00:36:03] Thanks for listening. Please subscribe wherever you listen and leave us a review. Find your ideal coach at www.theideamix.com. Special thanks to our producer Martin Milewski and singer songwriter Doug Allen.
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