Staff Spotlight: George Zaninovich

Staff Spotlight: George Zaninovich

Our Staff Spotlight Series highlights members of the Talent Rewire staff. 

Name: George Zaninovich
Pronouns: he/him/his
Place: Eugene, Oregon
Current Job: Director of  employer Transformation– Talent Rewire

1. As a form of introduction, please share with us a time when one or more of your identities played a role in your career.

I grew up in and out of poverty. As a child, I felt an inability to navigate and participate in certain systems. As I grew older I began to put words to that experience. As my awareness grew, I chose career pathways specifically dedicated to addressing systemic inequalities, engaging with those who face barriers to access, and understanding the process of fixing those systems.

2. Can you share an experience where you felt respected and valued? How did that affect your relationship to the job and the employer?

I tend to be relational in my approach which has, in some situations, been labeled as unprofessional or even a weak form of leadership. Since I’ve been with the TR team, I am feeling like my particular skill set is not just utilized but also valued. In working with Uli and engaging the Frontline Employee Council, our combined focus on fostering relationships is leading to increased trust, communication, and impact. It feels great!

3. What builds Trust for you as an employee? What needs to be true in a workplace for you to feel comfortable giving input? 

For me, trust is built when the gap between who an employer says they are and who they actually are is intentionally being closed. That means bringing in diverse voices, listening to those voices, and making structural changes based on what was heard. Hopefully, when that happens, all people feel more comfortable giving input.

4. What have you taken away by working at Talent Rewire? 

I’m continually reminded about the importance of a team and shucking the dominant culture of individualism and being solely responsible for success. We are a small but mighty team that can accomplish incredible things when we communicate with each other and work together. In addition, we discuss the concept of how going slow means going together and how going together is the way to create sustainable impact.

5. What are the biggest misconceptions you think employers have about frontline employees?

That frontline workers and the proximity they have to the customer are weaknesses in the system. That frontline employees do not have perspectives that are as valuable as a manager, director, or consultant. It is just the opposite in my mind.

6. What are ways in which employers show you that they value you as a human and as an employee?

This is where equity really matters more than equality for me. I appreciate employers taking into account someone’s individual circumstances while maintaining high standards for the work. This allows me to be more of myself in the workplace while having clear guidelines for what the work needs to be.

7. What’s one thing you would encourage employers to do for their frontline talent?

To do what it takes to create a better understanding of their experience. Maybe this is holding a listening session with a promise to circle back on the feedback or a leader spending part of the day working side-by-side on the frontline to learn more about the work they are doing. Both of these can create empathy, deeper relationships, and, ultimately, increased trust.