Do you remember where you were in June of 1993? Bill Clinton was president, Sleepless in Seattle was in theaters, Cleveland was breaking ground on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and the Chicago Bulls were NBA Champions. It’s surely a time Linda Tyson will never forget—it was in June of 1993 that she began her 25-year journey at Westhab. She had started her career in the corporate world but had become interested in nonprofits. When I sat down with her recently she recounted how, when she came across a job posting for a human resources representative at Westhab, she said to herself, “Hey, I can do that.” She quickly added, “Twenty five years later, here we are.”
What grabbed Linda’s attention at Westhab right from the start was the mission (Building Communities and Changing Lives), the diversity, and the people. Another aspect of working for Westhab that struck Linda immediately was how it differed from her experience in the corporate world where, she explained, it was much more hierarchical. At Westhab she found that people were colleagues first and supervisors and assistants second. She really liked that people did not get too hung up on their roles and titles.
Westhab, however, was not without challenges. One of the biggest challenges for Linda (and for many HR professionals) was striking the right balance in her relationships with coworkers, some of whom quickly became good friends. At work it was easy—everything was purely business. Outside of work, it could be tricky. The bottom line is that an HR professional can never step completely out of the role—there will always be confidential information that cannot be disclosed to anyone, even to your best friend.
If there is one thing that Linda has learned over the years that she would like to share it would be to always be mindful of your tone of voice when speaking with your coworkers. Linda explained that the tone of how something is said can be as important as the words themselves and goes a long way towards determining how your statement is perceived by the listener. In other words, adopting the right tone sets the stage for your delivery and helps to ensure that the listener is impacted in the way that was intended. Linda points out that this is especially important in a workplace as diverse as Westhab where we come from a variety of backgrounds and upbringings.
Reflecting on the last quarter of a century at Westhab, Linda is justifiably proud of her accomplishments and of her dedication to the organization. Believe it or not, one of her “fondest” memories is of doing payroll from her hospital bed! When contemplating her retirement, the camaraderie at work and the many signature Westhab events like golf outings, family days and holiday parties are the things that she will miss the most. That said, there is much to look forward to. Linda has become a museum enthusiast and also a member of the National Parks Association, and she is looking forward to visiting Harriet Tubman National Park. She is contemplating taking up yoga and is making plans to enjoy many vacations. Her plan, in general, is to relax and enjoy life to the fullest. But don’t worry fellow Westhabbers. As Linda said at her farewell lunch, “This is not good-bye. This is just see you later.”