Teaa Allston-Bing doesn’t have a lot of down time.
The director of human resources for the City of Douglassville, Ga., Allston-Bing is also the current president of the Georgia Local Government Personnel Association; president of GAPELRA, an affiliate chapter of the National Public Employer Labor Relations Association; vice president of membership engagement at the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources (NAAAHR)-Atlanta; and a training instructor at the University of Georgia Carl Vinson Institute of Government.
Allston-Bing is also a doctoral candidate and owner of a small beauty business. These responsibilities would be enough to keep anyone busy. But, Allston-Bing still found time recently to speak with IPMA-HR about her experience as a leader, a learner, an educator and a motorcycle-riding mother of five, as well as what the past two-plus years have taught her about leading through disruption and change.
You recently presented at the IPMA Annual Conference 2022, where you led a discussion on leading teams and adapting to change. What do you see as the biggest keys to being an adaptable, agile leader, and why are these leadership attributes/qualities so crucial to being an adaptable leader?
The biggest keys to being an adaptable, agile leader are being open-minded, thinking outside the box and being the example others choose to follow. These are crucial to being an adaptable leader in order to gain buy-in of change and for creating win-win solutions.
The last two-plus years have brought more than their share of significant, sudden change and disruption—a global pandemic, economic uncertainty, social upheaval and a “Great Resignation,” for example. In your role as human resources director for the City of Douglassville, Ga., what has presented the biggest test of your adaptability as a leader, and how have you overcome this challenge?
The biggest test of my adaptability as a leader has been losing key and tenured employees to other organizations. Turnover is at an all-time high. We have lost a lot of institutional knowledge in our municipality over the last two years. So, I have initiated stay interviews with exiting employees in order to understand what specifically is driving the exits. I have presented these statistics to leadership, and I’ve created new talent strategies and benefit offerings that present my organization as a great place to work.
In addition to your full-time role, you’re involved as a very active member of several professional associations, while also pursuing your doctorate. How do you balance all of that, and how do you find your involvement with those organizations aiding your performance and development as a leader?
The key to balancing professional associations and pursuing my doctorate is accepting that there is no perfect work-life balance. I find times to unplug when necessary, but I am committed to paying it forward, and to finishing my educational journey. I make time for myself now more than I ever have. It can be a bit chaotic, but I know that both networking and continuing my education will open more professional doors that will allow me to expand my knowledge in human resources.
We addressed the life- and workplace-changing effects of the pandemic in an earlier question. From a professional standpoint, what’s been the silver lining to emerge from the pandemic for you; how has this tumultuous time changed how you approach your job as an HR director and a people leader?
I have emerged from the pandemic by adopting the following philosophy: family first, then career. I am a wife and a mother of five college students. I focused more on my own mental health and being the support system for my family. My job as an HR director evolved from a support role to a strategic partner.
I led many organizational changes that were brought about from the pandemic. I appreciated these opportunities where HR was able to be depended on even more in the workplace. But I knew when to cut off my day in order to focus on mine and my family’s needs. Prioritization was very necessary for my silver lining.
You also have a full personal life that, as you mentioned, includes five kids in college. What do you like to do in your free time, and how do you find time for your hobbies, and for maintaining a sense of work/life balance?
In my free time, I ride my Harley Iron 883 Sportster, which provides the best “wind therapy” When I’m riding my bike, I am able to be free of work thoughts and family demands. I’m also an entrepreneur. I have a small beauty business; I’m the owner of touched by Teaa Makeup LLC. When I’m providing makeup services, I’m able to enhance my clients’ natural beauty. To see their smiles at the end of the session makes it all worth the time set aside for them. I’m also an avid roller skater since I was eight years old. When I put on skates and get on the rink floor, I’m in another zone! I don’t even think about work or school. I just listen to the music and let it guide my feet!
21 October 2022
HR News Article