We recently interviewed Aram Lulla:
Aram Lulla is the Chicago-based general manager of the HR practice at Lucas Group, which was recently named one of the top 10 executive recruiting firms in the nation by Forbes for 2019. Aram has helped place thousands of candidates during his 25-year career that includes tenures with Mar-Tek, AccountPros, HRi, Ranstand, and for the last decade, Lucas Group. Headquartered in Atlanta, Lucas Group operates 16 recruiting branches across the country, assisting clients ranging from small to medium-sized businesses to Fortune 500 companies find executive talent.
Can you give a quick overview of what you do professionally and why you do it?
Aram: I am currently the General Manager for the HR Practice at Lucas Group and have spent 25 years in the executive search and staffing industry.
What do you find most meaningful about your work?
Aram: I do this because I love it! It’s rare to find a career that can be both professionally and financially rewarding that can also have such a significant impact on people’s lives. There’s nothing more satisfying than taking someone who is either displaced or more often than not, gainfully employed, and placing them in a new position that may be better in a number of ways, impacting both them and their families.
How important do you believe company culture is to an organization’s success?
Aram: Company culture is extremely important to an organization’s success. We spend more waking hours during the week at work than anywhere else, so it’s critical that you like where you are going every day!
Without naming the companies, can you give examples of good cultures you have worked in and bad cultures you have worked in and how they have led to positive and negative results respectively?
Aram: Personally, I have been blessed to work primarily for companies with great cultures — places where there is consistency in each office — from the layout to each employee’s energy/attitude to the leadership driving the culture. It’s no surprise that these same environments also value integrity and have little to no tolerance for anything outside of that.
At the same time, the lines of communication are open with little regard for levels or titles, giving transparency to everyone. Take all of that, then add that these environments encourage learning and development, and it’s no surprise the cultures are so positive.
What is the company that you have worked for or with that you believe has the best culture and why?
Aram: Definitely where I am today at Lucas Group! While we are a large, multi-unit, complex recruiting operation, we still maintain a familial feel. I think all of this starts at the top and trickles down to each person, getting reinforced at every level in the company. While there are many competitive and results-oriented sales organizations out there, it’s rare to find an organization that can be both competitive and collaborative while continuing to grow year over year—and that’s what we have at Lucas Group. Not only is there transparency that instills trust, but we also have programs that are designed to foster collaboration.
What can other companies do to emulate this success?
Aram: Some examples are our peer-to-peer recognition program, our cross-selling program and our team recognition programs.
What is the company that you have never worked for or with but believe has the best culture?
Aram: If you asked me that question 15-20 years ago, I definitely would have said GE — a company that is results-driven with strong performance management and a true value for Human Resources and Human Capital. Today, I would say a company like Zappo’s.
What about that company’s culture do you admire from afar?
Aram: Zappo’s keeps company culture top-of-mind during the interview process while continuing to focus on making the customer experience as positive as possible.
Describe your office environment and how it relates to your company culture. Give us a feel for your office design from the office furniture design to the intangibles.
Aram: You know you’re at Lucas Group every time you walk into one of our offices! They all are painted with the same colors and carpet (various hues of blues and grays) with similar walls – mixing in some polished concrete to go with the open layouts. All of our latest buildouts feature modern, light-colored low- to mid-rise cubes with gray, ventilated office chairs, while some of the walls are splashed with images of our own employees and familiar company phrases and values. This way, when employees from one branch walk into another, they immediately feel like they’re at home; they can simply sit at a desk, sign in, and it’s business as usual!
What do you believe are the key elements to creating and maintaining an uplifting office environment?
Aram: Ensuring that every hire is dynamic and fits into the company culture is key, with leadership being a true representation of the company culture in his/her day-to-day being another key. Coordinating office events around each of these employees will only help maintain and develop this type of environment.
What does ergonomics mean to you? How has your knowledge of ergonomics impacted your work?
Aram: To me, ergonomics means studying how efficient and productive people are at work. Everything from the desks, chairs, monitors, keyboards, lighting and workspace environment has an impact on that, and that’s why it has been so important to our organization to ensure we have consistency in offering a comfortable and positive environment in every office.
How do you buy office furniture? Do you buy furniture online? When do you decide to buy?
Aram: That is all handled out of our corporate offices in Atlanta, but I do know we purchase online, retail and wholesale. Purchases for furniture primarily occur upon new office buildouts, but can be purchased ad hoc for replacements, etc.
What office chair do you sit in and why? What specific features about your office chair do you appreciate and enjoy? And how would you weigh the relative importance of comfort, posture support, design, cost and other variables?
Aram: Global LOOVER and Global G20 chairs – I have a cube and an office. I appreciate the adjustability to both, along with the breathable, mesh backs and the solid back support. They look good, have been very durable and offer a great comfort-to-price ratio.
What is your best advice on maximizing productivity in the office?
Aram: Setting the vision for the office is critical. I think most people understand what they’re doing, but they also need to know why they’re doing it! Having leadership reinforce this regularly through examples and transparent communication – coupled with furthering the positive culture – will maximize productivity.
What is your best advice on effectively managing others?
Aram: In my experience, you have to treat each person as an individual versus managing everyone the same way – really allowing their voice to be heard. This approach not only shows you care, but also allows you to develop a customized development plan for each person, benefitting everyone in the long run.
What workplace trends do you see on the horizon? Leave us with three things we should be on the lookout for.
The continued integration of AI in the workplace. While there will always be the human element, learning how to efficiently build AI into the day-to-day will be a constantly evolving process.
A focus on gender equality in leadership roles and leveling the compensation field. We can see this happening with salary history ban legislation enacted in many jurisdictions, not to mention more and more women sitting in key executive roles. While it’s not equal, it’s improving daily and will be a key focus for companies in the near future.
Just as companies had to adjust for Millennials, they will have to do the same for Gen Z. There are many already in the workforce today with many others entering in for the first time, so businesses have to be ready for them.