Originally published in Nashville Business Journal
Authored by Martin Cherry
Sherrie Whatton is president and CEO of LBMC Staffing Solutions, which offers recruitment services in accounting/finance, human resources, information technology, executive administration and key skilled manufacturing roles.
What is the most common mistake women make in business, and how would you overcome it? Self-limiting themselves. Feeling they can’t have it all, meaning have a fulfilling career and be a great mom, great wife, great friend and great community supporter. I encourage all woman that are driven and fulfilled by having a professional career to not feel like they cannot meet that goal. While it’s not easy at times, it is doable.
What is your biggest pet peeve in the workplace? Lack of communication. … [It] typically leads to unnecessary fear, negative perceptions and a lot of wasted time.
What is the worst advice you were ever given, and what did it teach you? “Go with the flow.” Not that this advice is not applicable at times, however, for those who want to achieve more than the status quo, I have found it important to take in information/situations and evaluate the best option(s) when responding versus just going along with the majority constantly. It is important to challenge ourselves to be the best we can be.
What impact has Nashville’s growth had on you and/or your company? I have always felt extremely blessed to be doing business in a community like Nashville. It is vibrant, has a diverse business mix and is a place where people tend to truly want to help others. Being in the third-party recruiting/staffing business, the growth has only increased our opportunity to grow as the talent war and needs are stronger than ever.
What is the best book you’ve read recently? “Dare to Lead,” by Brene Brown. Brave work. Tough conversations. Whole hearts. Excellent leadership book that not only applies in business, but also on the personal side of life.
First job: I started babysitting at 12 years old. I learned the importance of knowing others are depending on me: to be on time, be on top of my responsibilities and make wise decisions. Also, I learned going the extra mile can make a big difference. I would always try my best to not only have the kids well taken care of, but to leave the kitchen/house cleaner than I when I arrived. This paid dividends in repeat business and referrals, as well as getting a few extra dollars at times.
Must-have college course for business leaders: Communications. I have always said, “Communication is the key to success.” To have a successful culture, you must communicate. To be a successful leader, you must communicate. To have a successful team, you must communicate. To have a good marriage, you must communicate. You get the picture!
Hardest lesson learned: Even when you work hard and have “success” by the measure of a rating system — grades in school, a good performance review at work — if you do not find purpose and passion in your work, you will not enjoy it and therefore, you will never be your best. I learned this early in my career after graduating with honors, landing the “dream job” right out of college and then being miserable after a year. After sticking it out longer, thankfully God led me to an “unknown” opportunity — an industry I was unfamiliar with at the time but now have felt [to be] my calling for 27-plus years. … I’m super grateful for this as I have truly found passion and purpose and feel my successes have stemmed from the ability to help serve others, which I was called to do.
Surprising thing women still deal with in the workplace: Honestly, I am surprised there is still so much talk around how woman are treated inferior to men in business. I guess I need to be super thankful that while I was in a heavily weighted male environment starting out my career in public accounting 30 years ago … (there were very few female partners; not the case today), I can honestly say I have never felt held back or mistreated as a female in business. My managers early on, as well as my business partners later in my career, have always been super supportive of me through all stages of my career. They understood when my children were younger and my stance of kids/family comes first, allowing me the flexibility I needed to juggle all of life’s commitments, to grow the business at the pace that worked for me as long as our clients’ needs were being met, to the stages of pouring capital back in to grow and expand it in times where I had more to give time-wise.
Go-to song: “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”