Editor’s Note: Anthony Katchusky is the Director of Global Payroll for Auth0, an identity management platform with a mission to secure the world’s identities so innovators can innovate. Katchusky has spent more than 17 years in payroll, more than 14 of them working in a global payroll capacity. He excels at forming payroll teams that work well with other departments and stakeholders. He also excels at installing best practices and audit routines, in addition to system implementations. Katchusky’s current initiative is to help deploy a global payroll focus and develop standard operating procedures for a global company with employees in more than 30 countries. In addition, he is assisting with system updates and implementations to help bring a more intuitive global payroll processing approach at Auth0. During his free time, Katchusky is an ambitious traveler who can’t wait for the COVID-19 pandemic to end and the world to get back to normal. He also enjoys the outdoors, shark tooth hunting, sports, playing games, and enjoying life with his beautiful wife and family.
Read Part 1 of this professional spotlight in the April 2021 Global Payroll issue.
What are some considerations for a company to use to determine if there is a good fit with a prospective vendor?
The size of your company, the size of the company's global footprint, integration capabilities with your human capital management (HCM) system, and banking are some of my top considerations. Some vendors cater best to smaller companies with a “HQ2” location and maybe a few smaller 5-10 person payrolls. Other vendors excel at larger footprints with 100-plus employee payrolls scattered around the world. Some cater best regionally to LATAM or Asia. When I am reviewing a vendor that I think caters to my company well—based on my top four considerations above—I want to then deep dive into the vendor and get to know them.
Does the sales rep take the time to address me personally or are they rounding the corner and avoiding the main concern? Whenever a vendor answers my questions by telling me what they do and why they do it and how other competing vendors are not doing this, I keep asking questions. I ask everyone associated with the vendor and see how different the answers are from each person with the organization. I once asked a potential vendor about banking fees. I consulted with a customer in my network, and I was informed the vendor will wire payments which cause the employees to incur banking fees. It took them about six months to get that resolved. So, when I asked about this, three different reps gave me three different responses. It was a huge red flag. At my exit interview with the vendor after I informed them that we would not be choosing them, I addressed this, and the exit interviewer was shocked. They prided themselves on not hiding anything and tried to apologize for not getting a straight answer. Lastly, one factor to never use is to just go with the preferred third-party vendors your HCM can connect you with. That relationship may not always exist, so don’t let that be your deciding factor. Always fully vet them.
What are some pieces of learned wisdom from your on-the-job experience that you can share regarding being effective and efficient?
One of the most critical career lessons I have faced is the importance of a good hire. Not just hiring someone who has a nice-looking résumé but hiring to fit the business. Will the candidate be a good fit culturally? Can they work independently or in a collaboration? Can they work remotely? Will the candidate be with you for months or years? I have faced candidates who lasted a year or less. I have had great success with employees who have produced as a solid worker for multiple years. Those direct hires I made, that are in the multiple year category, I get great satisfaction to help and watch them grow. Just as important, the investment the company has made in me to make the hiring decision and the investment the company made in bringing on the employee is a great success. When the opposite occurs, it can set a smaller department backwards, especially when you have controls in place for segregation of duties and now must figure out how to keep the status quo while shorthanded and looking again for the next rockstar to join your team.
Today, this is even more critical. With respect to the new norm we are working in with COVID-19, we must ensure hiring interviews are more thorough as you do them through video chat software vs. in person. It may even feel like you must learn how to effectively interview all over again. One new learned wisdom here, which should not be a surprise, is to be yourself and let the candidate get to know you. They will in turn be themselves and you can evaluate their fit for the company much easier once you're both being yourselves and true to each other. Another new learned wisdom in today’s world: Don’t over prepare. You're likely not being yourself if you do.
What kinds of skills, training, and education would be most useful for someone moving into a managerial role in payroll?
The most effective skill any new manager can have is the ability to provide effective feedback, positive and negative. That is a manager's best tool. This communication tool is necessary to enhance your employee’s esteem, encourage involvement, and provide support without removing responsibility. Just as important to sculpt the conversation is understanding your employee’s personality and how you may have to adapt slightly to your worker. Managers are more effective when they understand the working styles of themselves and their team members.
What is your management and leadership approach today?
A leader must develop trust first and foremost. Some great leaders I like to model include Ernest Shackleton, Harriet Tubman, and Herb Brooks, to name a few. They all have had to command respect and trust to fulfill their goals. Each showed optimism with their courage, communicated constantly with respect, led by example, and stayed flexible enough to be able to shift plans if plan A was not working. My main approach today, which has remained unchanged during the COVID-19 pandemic, is to develop and to understand what motivates another person. Everyone is different. I build candid relationships and strive to get, give, and encourage feedback. One of the feedback tools I have been using for the past two years, which I have had great success with, is to frame all your discussions or meetings using the following format:
- Open (describe the purpose/importance)
- Clarify (seek and share information)
- Develop (seek and discuss ideas, explore resources, and support)
- Agree (specify actions and contingencies)
- Confirm (measure success)
- Close (summarize importance of the plan; confirm confidence and commitments)
What books are on your recommended reading list?
I recommend the following books:
- Radical Candor by Kim Scott—My go-to manager self-help book. This book helped me understand how to challenge a worker, not only as a manager, but as a friend who cares. Having that level of trust is a rock-solid investment to have with your direct reports, indirect reports, and all colleagues as well.
- Endurance by Alfred Lansing—I read this as a follow up to the book Shackleton’s Way and found it to be a phenomenal display of great leadership and making difficult decisions that affect teams.
- Read ‘Em and Reap by Joe Navarro—Although this is a book framed on playing poker, it’s a favorite of mine to help read body language. It’s very useful in all meeting scenarios. I believe you need to read your audience to be effective.
Can you share some stress management techniques you have found useful?
I have found the best stress management technique is to take some time away from my work computer and go for a hike. In today’s COVID-19 world, I have found myself stepping away and mastering the Rubik’s cube, learning new card tricks to show my kids, or walking the dog and listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Astonishing Legends. My personal favorite go-to stress management technique is to drive 45 minutes to hike along the Chesapeake shoreline and go fossil hunting. There is something so peaceful in combing the beaches in search of million-year-old shark teeth and so satisfying when you find a huge megalodon tooth.
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Frank J. Mendelson is Acquisitions Editor for the Global Payroll Management Institute (GPMI) and the American Payroll Association (APA).