Partner Spotlight: Q&A with Performentor

We recently had the opportunity to talk with Alicia Parr, Founder & CEO of Performentor. Here’s what she told us about the company, its services, and how they’re deep in upgrading and codifying their business processes:

Can you tell us a little about Performentor?

Performentor is a leading fractional human resource management firm delivering scalable people strategy, systems building, and organizational expertise to organizations that are positioned for growth. We unleash and harness people energy by providing full stack fractional HR services for growing, scale-change organizations to supplement or precede internal full-time HR staff. Occasionally, we also work with down-scaled organizations that reduce or eliminate internal HR staff temporarily. We are guided by Performentor Operating Principles which serve to reframe the ways in which the role of people, and therefore HR, is viewed in relation to business growth. 

Our approach to human resource solutions is entrepreneur-friendly, flexible, and innovative. We have a broad range of HR-related capabilities. Clients often remark, “I didn’t know you could help us with that!” 

We prioritize flexibility. You move, we move. Our consultants “become we with our clients” and “start where the client is” along their growth journey. I like to say we offer “the kind of HR small business owners and entrepreneurs have really wanted but didn’t know they could ask for it.”

What’s your favorite part of helping other companies succeed? 

My vision is to provide energy unleashing opportunities to as many leaders and organizations as possible. It’s the breakthrough moments from client leaders and team members that animate me. I love seeing people energized by their own growth, whether it’s a leader, a client’s employee, or one of our HR consultants. That’s what unleashing people energy means to me. 

I’ll share a story about one client that went through hard times and shrinkage due to the pandemic. We kept chipping away at a wide range of initiatives, targeting the urgent and important people practices that respond to and anticipate people-related challenges until the owner had a sellable business. It took a little over a year. 

For one, we enhanced the organizational connective tissue through operational clarity and a habit of gratitude. As people exited, we promptly replaced those who no longer aligned with the mission while improving onboarding practices for acculturation and readiness to perform. We co-authored with leaders to amplify core values awareness and strategic alignment with purpose.  Finally, part of the solution was to provide top executives with people strategy coaching and a sounding board for complex business decisions.

Another example was working with a trades services business that had multiple store locations and was fairly rapidly adding new ones. The sentiment expressed by the managers at several of the locations was that their store was unique from other stores so a culture of collaborating on operational and people problems wasn’t worth the time or energy. The President had a different vision! So we leaned into how their defined core values suggested a different approach and unlocked that capability through leadership training and management skill development. We defined role trajectories and developmental opportunities for the front lines. Over time, the overly-independent store managers shifted into a tight, collaborative leadership team that emphasized financial growth, team size growth, and growth of each individual team member.

Tell us more about providing “fractional, full-stack, strategic HR.” How is this different from other HR service providers? 

Our differentiation stems from team-based, highly flexible, engagement methods that leverage the talents, experience levels, and interests of our people operations consultants. We recognize that different HR professionals have different talents, experiences, and strategic capabilities. We create support teams for each client that have complementary skills that are well-suited to the particular needs of each client. 

Our HR approach emphasizes all of the ways we can collaborate with organizational leaders to optimize team performance and culture. We understand that business is complex. So are people. 

Traditionally, HR is focused on minimizing compliance risk and cost. We agree that this is important and see this capability as HR table stakes. These considerations must be accounted for as part of the risk profile each executive must make while keeping our eyes on team performance. 

We are also big believers that there’s no one right way to do things. Many firms have a defined, cut-and-paste solution that might work well at one company, but not so much elsewhere. We apply custom approaches based on our deeply held operating principles. For example, we have behavior scientists on our team (I like to call them people scientists) who can leverage methods of encouraging behavior change that improves team performance and the unleashing of people energy. 

We’re also big on co-authorship. We believe the best solutions come by having our experts closely collaborate with client leaders. My favorite situations are when the problem-solving and idea generation are so fluent that we aren’t even sure who came up with the solution we landed on! That is a fun and rewarding experience.

What’s the biggest value-add for Performentor to partner with CED?

As a long-time resident of Durham, I love being part of the local entrepreneurial ecosystem. Historically service providers haven’t been viewed with the same legitimacy as tech-related startups, but I very much count myself as part of that entrepreneurial community. I truly appreciate the energy and support for all entrepreneurs and startups. It’s exciting to be here in this time and place. It’s special here. 

CED provides enhanced access to key players in the startup ecosystem and opportunities to share our mission and message with a wider and relevant audience. CED has established a deep credibility here over the years and many positive changes for entrepreneurs stemmed from CED’s influence. 

Why is it important to be involved in the entrepreneurial ecosystem? 

Around here, something I call “referral karma” is a real thing. There’s the belief that by helping others without asking for a quid pro quo, good things will happen in return. Helping each other succeed benefits everyone over the long run.

In a similar fashion to how we team up HR consultants in a way that leverages the talents and capabilities of each person to best address the unique needs of that client, our entrepreneurial community weaves a web of mutual support – allowing us all to do greater things in our businesses.

What’s coming up (or what are your goals) in the next 12 months?

We are deep in upgrading and codifying our business processes to be more scalable and making it easier to understand the ways in which we are different. Our clients comment that we’re different in ways that are sometimes hard to articulate, so we are really leaning into that effort. We also are finding automation and tech-enablement that makes our unique methods more efficient yet still flexible and innovative. 

Here are a few other changes underway:

  • Transitioning to a broader, scalable billing model that fuels our brand promise of flexibility and entrepreneur-friendliness. 
  • Codifying consultant roles, levels, and developmental pathways.
  • Implementing a game-changing assessment that highlights communication and change-readiness skill sets.
  • Piloting and scaling Performentor Academy, initially as an internal platform, and eventually as an external, client-facing offering.

Thank you for your time, Alicia! We appreciate your partnership and look forward to seeing what the years ahead bring for Performentor!

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