A Conversation With: Laura FioreVice president of human resources, AAA Central Penn
Laura Fiore, 51, joined AAA Central Penn as vice president of human resources in 2017.
She has more than 20 years of experience in the field, most recently as associate vice president of human resources at Franklin & Marshall College.
Fiore has a bachelor’s degree in marketing and management from the University of Scranton.
She and her husband live in Manheim Township and have two daughters and a son.
Q: Coming from higher education, what do you think will be different about human resources at AAA Central Penn? What will be similar?
A: While both environments are collaborative, the decision-making process in higher ed can take lots of time. AAA is still driven by the desire to collaborate but we’re very conscious of deadlines. We have to empower managers to make decisions and offer them opportunities to demonstrate their leadership more frequently. Both higher education and private industry are dedicated to their customer – the student and the member. And collaboration makes for better outcomes. We’re open to sharing ideas, best practices and alternative approaches. The basic functions are the same no matter where you go but how you get there is very different. But that’s what I find exciting.
What makes organizational effectiveness programs, such as the ones you led at Franklin & Marshall, successful?
To me, it’s all about work culture. At F&M, there’s a culture of lifelong learning and it prompts constant questioning of whether the way things are done is really the best way. They are receptive to change as a result and support a mindset of continuous improvement.
At AAA, it has been important to me to learn about the current culture and then determine where I need to steer the culture to keep the good stuff happening. Strong core values are introduced at orientation, there’s values posters hanging in our contact center, they’re discussed during team meetings, and employees can nominate their colleagues for a monthly award when they demonstrate the values. This makes my job easy and fun.
How can human resource professionals keep employees informed and confident while navigating new systems or policy changes?
Communicate, communicate, communicate, in multiple forums and methods. Be accommodating of employee differences: their schedules, both work shifts and time off, their learning styles and their time that’s available. Some employees do well if you email them instructions. Others prefer a live meeting, others a webinar that they participate in at their desks with the option to listen to the recording later. A good communication plan regarding large-scale changes should utilize as many of those options as possible.
I’ve learned that providing a safe environment for questioning and learning is critical. Employees need to know it’s not only okay but expected for them to question why something is being done differently and how it will impact them, to offer suggestions that others may not have thought of and to be appreciated for doing all these things.
As a longtime resident of Lancaster, what is your favorite thing to show visitors about the area?
Central Market and the surrounding restaurants. Lancaster Dispensing Company and the Himalayan Curry and Grill are my favorites. My husband and I have a long-standing tradition of going to market on Saturday afternoons and enjoying a bloody Mary at Dispensing Company afterwards. We’re looking forward to them reopening soon.