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IAM1979 – HR Strategist Shares on How to Terminate with Dignity

Podcast Interview with Wendy Mahle

In today's competitive job market, finding the right job can often be a daunting task. However, there are companies like Smarter Job Hunting that are dedicated to helping individuals transition into new positions with dignity and respect.

We had the opportunity to interview Wendy Mahle, the Chief Human Resource Strategist at Smarter Job Hunting, who shared valuable insights and advice on effective job-hunting strategies.

It aims to address the termination issue by providing outplacement services that support individuals during the transition period and help them find new job opportunities more quickly. This process involves treating employees with respect and compassion, offering counseling services, and providing them with the knowledge they need to succeed in their job search.

Wendy Mahle's expertise and experience in the field of human resources have led her to help individuals navigate the job-hunting process successfully.

Through Smarter Job Hunting, Wendy and her team provide outplacement services that prioritize dignity, respect, and the overall well-being of individuals facing job termination. Smarter Job Hunting's comprehensive approach, including the book and counseling services, offers valuable guidance for job seekers in today's dynamic job market.


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Full Interview:


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Wendy Mahle Teaser 00:00

Smarter job hunting, what we do is we work with the companies to help them when they're terminating employees so they can do it respectfully with dignity.

The outplacement service provides that individual with the knowledge, the counseling that they need to help move on to the next position more quickly and find a job that they're going to love, and do it more quickly.

Intro 00:20

Are you ready to hear business stories and learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and level up your business from awesome CEOs, entrepreneurs, and founders without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresh values your time and is ready to share with you the valuable info you're in search of.

This is the I AM CEO Podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:48

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast, and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Wendy Mahle.

Wendy, excited to have you on the show.

Wendy Mahle 00:56

Thank you. Thank you for inviting me today, Gresh. Been listening to your podcast and really enjoying the insights that I've been getting from those. So thank you.

Gresham Harkless 01:04

Yes, absolutely. We love the fact that you're going to be part of those insights as well, too, because I know you have a wealth of knowledge and information. Of course, before we jumped into that interview, I want to read a little bit more about Wendy so you can hear about some of the awesome things that she's been able to accomplish.

Wendy is the chief human resource strategist for smarter job hunting, a company focused on helping individuals find the jobs they will treasure. Wendy is a seasoned executive in human resources, who has been providing strategic leadership to both national and international companies specializing in health care, research, technology, retail and communications.

Throughout her career, Wendy has worked with fast-changing companies, recently working in a leadership role to grow a national behavioral health company by 100% in a three year period. She has provided strategic leadership to companies experiencing contractions to their business due to economics or markets, as well as support to employees.

She utilizes this expertise with smarter job hunting, a company helping HR departments develop and deploy cost-effective outplacement services, as well as providing services directly to individuals who are seeking to make career changes and find a job they will treasure. Wendy has over 20 years of experience working with organizations in different sectors and has a wealth of knowledge and experience that we're grateful to get the chance to learn from today.

Actually was doing a little bit of research, and I've read a quote that she had in the society of human resource management. She said, leaders who support employees changing needs and goals, with training and opportunity keep the workforce engaged and evolved with the business. So I think it's just some of that leadership. We're going to get a little taste of today.

Wendy, are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

Wendy Mahle 02:40

I am. I am.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 02:41

Awesome. Let's get it started then. Absolutely. So to kick everything off, what I wanted to do, which is from one o'clock, is hear a little bit more on your story. We'll let you get started with all the awesome work you've been doing.

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Wendy Mahle 02:50

Thank you. Thank you. So, I've spent my career in human resources and have loved it. So in the last 20-plus years, I've led HR departments, mostly in fast-growing companies. I've been through mergers and acquisitions. I've been on the acquiring side. I've been on the acquired side. I've been through changes of ownership with PE companies, stock price splits, stock crashes headquarters changes, and just lots and lots of changes through the years and the effects that has on the employees and all the things that comes with that.

I've had an amazing path, a lot of fun in my career, a lot of work, and as I said, a lot of changes. I've really had the opportunity to work with a lot of incredible people at all levels. I've certainly had to conduct my share of layoffs and terminations, which has been part of what's brought me to what I'm doing now. About 2 years ago, I was running the HR department for a national healthcare company that was growing just at a crazy pace and the company was for sale. I didn't have time to breathe, it's so, so busy. I went to an art opening, and I'm meeting all these artists there, and, discussing their work and having a really nice evening.

I meet this couple and it's Stuart Rudolph and Janet Auburn. They've been long-term followers of one of the artists there. After a little bit, they asked me, will you give us some feedback about the book from your H. R. expertise? And so at the time I'm up to my ears and work and I'm thinking I don't have time for this, but sure, you seem like really nice people. I have no idea like what amazing backgrounds they have or anything with their career paths have been or you know how they came to write this book. But I'm like, okay, sure, I'll read your book and I make a commitment to do it.

So I start reading the book and I'm like, oh, these people have something here. As I'm reading different chapters they're just really on target and really just hitting a lot of things that just are very much on pace, on track with things that I've been saying to people and things that I very, very strongly believe. So As I'm reading the book, it's really hitting home with me. So, to me, Smarter Job Hunting is not just a book. So Stuart, Janet, and then there's a third author Dr. Christopher Hart, have presented like my philosophy about why people work and why they should choose what career they are working in and where they're working and how to find a job in a better way in today's market, which is very different from previous markets.

So there are chapters that just mirror the things that I've been saying when I've been counseling employees for years, as well as how do you find a job now, which is different than it's been in the past. So I'm reading this book and it's really resonating with me, with my personal philosophy and things that I've been saying to employees and I'm thinking back to different scenarios and situations I've had with employees where, I've been counseling people about their jobs and how happy they are or miserable they are at work or going through terminations. And I'm thinking, I wish I had this, this would have been great to offer to this person or to that person, as a good path. Here, read this book, go through these exercises.

So, fast forward a couple of months to a company where I was working, sold. I'm no longer working there, which is typical with the executives when a company sells. So, I'm taking some time off, I'm a grandma for the first time. I'm taking some time off and enjoying that and thinking about what do I want to do next. I decided that what I really want to do rather than just take another traditional HR job right now is I want to work with people and help them figure out how to be happier in their work lives. That means finding a job, finding a career that meets their personal goals, their professional goals, not just their financial goals, which is what smarter job hunting is all about.

So, now, team up there, with a group, Chris, with Stewart and with Janet. We are through Smarter Job Hunting, working with HR departments and offering them the Smarter Job Hunting services through outplacement, helping employees that are losing their jobs find jobs that they're going to love.

Gresham Harkless 07:33

Nice. I absolutely love that. So I wanted to drill down a little bit more. I know you touched on a little bit more on how you're working with and serving your clients that you work with, and maybe, hear a little bit more on what you feel like sets you apart and is part of that secret sauce that makes you or the organization unique.

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Wendy Mahle 07:47

Sure. So, what every HR person, every manager is going to tell you is that terminating employees is like the worst part of their job. It just doesn't feel good. It's not fun. It's not fun for anybody. It's just really the worst part of every person's job. People will tell you when it's happening to them, it's a terrible thing. It affects them in every part of their life. So, it's just something that as you're going through it, whether you're the person who's doing the termination, the person that it's happening to, or if it's your spouse or loved one that's happening to, it is just not a good thing to go through. How it happens to you can make a huge difference and the support that you get can make such a huge difference to how you come out of this on the other end.

And so, it's really important for a company to do this the right way. So how you terminate employees, especially when it's not the employee's fault. When that's happening, you need to be able to treat that person with respect, with compassion and help them move on to their next role. That's what our placement does. So, Smarter Job Hunting, what we do is we work with the companies to help them when they're terminating employees so they can do it respectfully with dignity. The outplacement service provides that individual with the knowledge, the counseling that they need to help move on to the next position more quickly and find a job that they're going to love, and do it more quickly.

There's a combination of services, so it really does help the employee in ways that they need to be helped. So you've got the book, the book provides the knowledge that the job seeker needs. It's available in a printed format as an ebook or as an interactive app. Then we also provide counseling for the person to help them work through so and also continue to educate them. And also, most importantly, making sure that position that you're doing the kind of work that is going to be fulfilling to you.

Gresham Harkless 09:56

Nice. I appreciate you sharing that. I wanted to switch gears a little bit and ask you for what I call a CEO hack.  So this could be a little bit more of an app, a book or a habit that you have, or it could be something from the book as well, too.

But what's something you think makes you more effective and efficient?

Wendy Mahle 10:11

So anybody who's ever been interviewed for a job by me, we'll tell you that question that I ask every single person is, what gets you excited to jump out of bed and go to work every day? So I asked out of everybody because I think that yes, we go to work because we need a paycheck. But we are also spending our time, our efforts, our energy on our job and it's important to be excited about what you're doing. It's important to want to jump out of bed and go to work almost every day.

We're all going to have days where we're not into it. But, work needs to be fulfilling, and that's something that I think as an individual, we need to make sure that we have found that. But that said, I also think we need to remember that it's important to bring smiles and laughter into our own lives and into the lives of the people around us. I try to laugh, make sure that I am having a good time, bringing a good time to the people around me. People who work with me say I have an unusual sense of humor, a dry sense of humor sometimes. But I want to make sure that the people who are working with me, working for me, working around me are having a good time.

I will laugh at myself. I like to laugh with other people, and I think that's a very important thing for everybody that we're having a good time when we're at work. I've worked in some Pretty serious businesses, I've worked in a lot of very serious situations, but I think that you gotta be able to laugh at work. That's an important thing. You gotta be able to have a good time at what you're doing.

Gresham Harkless 11:44

Yeah, I agree with that. I often laugh at myself. I have a lot of material to do that laughing at too. So that always makes it a little bit easier.

Wendy Mahle 11:52

And I think you're providing your own material. Yeah, me too.

Gresham Harkless 11:55

Exactly. There you go. Having that experience piece. That's the word that was coming up for me. Having that experience of being able to laugh, have fun, and enjoy the things that you do because again, you're spending so much time, often you know where you are.

What would you consider to be what I like to call more of a CEO nugget? So this is a little bit more word of wisdom or a piece of advice. I like to say it might be something you would tell, a fellow HR professional, or if you were to hop into a time machine, you might tell your younger business self.

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Wendy Mahle 12:23

I've been talking a lot about terminating employees and, we're picking up where the termination and when the termination has happened, and I'm going to keep talking about that. So I've seen all sides of the termination and, obviously, it is really a hard part. It affects the employee. It affects their family. It affects your company. Your customers look at how you treat them. With social media today, everyone is looking at how you treat your employees.

Your future hires are looking at that. Your current employees are looking at that and wondering, is that picking up the extra work when you do a layoff and they're picking up the extra work and they're thinking, hey, am I next, they're looking at how are you treating. So, if you are doing it and you're taking care of people, you're treating them respectfully, you're helping them get where they need to go.

Gresham Harkless 13:14

Yeah, absolutely. And it just reminds me of the quote, of people don't care how much so long as they know how much you care. So what would you consider to be your answer to my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO.

We are hoping to have different quote and quote CEOs on this show? So Wendy, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Wendy Mahle 13:30

So to me, it doesn't matter if your organization is entertaining employees or entertaining people, feeding people, building widgets, houses or creating, cutting-edge technology, or saving lives. It doesn't matter. You know what it is that your organization does, the CEO just needs to have clear goals, understand what their purpose, the purpose of their organization is, and then surround themselves with the experts needed to help achieve those goals and then give them the full reign and authority to do and be the experts that they are.

To me, that's what a true leader does. And a lot of those people to be leaders and to lead their people in their roles and a CEO, you need to be able to build trust with all levels of your teams, and that's all the way down all the levels there and allow those leaders at all levels to be the best for their own teams. You've got to be a listener so that you hear your people, you hear your customers, your shareholders, and that you are responding to their feedback and, in your decisions and also that you're communicating back to them so that they know that they're being heard.

You may not be agreeing with them all the time, but, at least responding back and they know that they've been heard and are acknowledged and that you're listening. Really, to me, it just comes back down to you're supporting them and so that they can do their jobs and that you're listening and that you've got your goals clearly outlined and that you're moving forward with those goals and, when needed, you're listening and able to change those goals.

Gresham Harkless 15:20

Yeah, absolutely. I love that definition and truly appreciate that definition. Of course, I appreciate your time even more. So what I wanted to do now was pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional you want to let our readers and listeners know.

And of course, how best people can get ahold of you and your team about the book, the app and all the awesome things that you all are working on.

Wendy Mahle 15:39

Thank you. So we have the website, which is, My email is Certainly would welcome emails from listeners.

So thank you for the opportunity.

Gresham Harkless 15:55

Thank you for doing all the work, and that's what makes it so beautiful. So, of course, we're gonna have the links and information in the show notes as well, too, so that everybody can follow up, get the book, find out about all the awesome things your team are working on.

Thank you so much for being that resource for us today and all the awesome work that you do. And I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Wendy Mahle 16:11

Thank you. Gresh, I appreciate it.

Outro 16:13

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO podcast powered by CB Nation and Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Check out the latest and greatest apps, books, and habits to level up your business at

This has been the I AM CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless, Jr. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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