Growing up in Louisville, Kentucky, Nick Dillman never considered a career in Human Resources. He saw himself becoming a public servant of some sort, so his plan was to study Economics at The University of Kentucky, earn a Master’s in Public Policy, and then try to work for the state. We all know what they say about the best laid plans however… and after some difficulty registering for his top choice electives, Nick found himself in a class called Human Resource Management (which at the time meant nothing to him). As he took the class and learned more about the field though, Nick developed a passion for everything-HR and never looked back.
Nick is now an Associate Manager of Talent & Organizational Development at KFC Global in Dallas, where he helps lead and develop a broad range of talent management programs and initiatives to grow our people. Here, Nick talks about his career journey at KFC, and our signature leadership development program Heartstyles, and why it is so important.
Picture it: You work hard. Really hard. You put in the hours at work. You do your job well. You want to grow personally. You read books, listen to podcasts, talk with friends, go to therapy, journal, self-reflect, whatever it takes. You want to become a more well-rounded person, the best version of yourself. But it’s hard, right? You manage a tough workload at your job and your personal growth is limited to spare time outside of work hours.
Now imagine this: you get a call about a job and decide to take an interview. As the day approaches, your nerves only grow. You’ve already got a job. You’re focused on doing well there. You are working on yourself too. What else would you need? Then, the day arrives. You walk through the door to the building where you are interviewing, questioning why you decided to come. But when you enter, all the nerves melt away. You’re greeted with smiles and kindness from the second you walk in. Your interview team makes you laugh and feel at-home. You look around and see people chatting and giggling as they work, expressing themselves through personalized workspaces, adorned with awards and fun swag. “Everyone is so happy,” you reflect to yourself, “They seem thrilled to be here, so relaxed and yet so effective.” “What is it about this place,” you wonder. And as the day goes on and your interview experience draws to a close, you can only think to yourself “This is it. This is the place where I want to work. No, not the place where I want to work, the place where I have to work.”
That experience? That interview? It’s my story. My name is Nick Dillman. I work at KFC and I absolutely love it. Not just the food – although an extra crispy two-piece meal really hits the spot – but the people, the culture, the opportunity, the growth. Talk about a recipe for success (pun-intended). When I walked through those doors to the Restaurant Support Center for my interview, I knew that KFC was the place for me. It was more than just a job or career move. It was a change in my entire way of life. Yes, it was a great career opportunity for me, but it was also the start of a journey in my personal life that, for the first time, I could actually combine with my professional life.
I began that journey with KFC’s US team in July of 2018 as an HR Business Partner in Louisville, KY, USA. I had the privilege of working with some of the most talented people I’ve ever met, and the even greater privilege of helping guide them through the ups and downs of their jobs and development journeys. In early 2020, I was given an opportunity to move to KFC’s Global team in Dallas, Texas, USA to look after talent and organizational development programs.
For those familiar with roles in Human Resources, you might think that the skills for an HR Business Partner role don’t transfer very well to organizational development, and in some cases, you might be right. But, at KFC, that isn’t necessarily the case. That’s because the skills you use here aren’t as much about technical expertise, though that is important, but more about the kind of leadership and behaviors you bring to the table. And that’s part of why I love working at KFC. It truly is a journey of self-development; a place where I can be my best, most authentic self. The best part? It isn’t all on me to figure out how to do that! KFC helps people build that kind of leadership and helps guide people through their growth experiences. The culture is just built that way. It’s a place where opportunities can turn to strengths, where failure is a learning experience. But how? How does KFC help people grow like this? Well, that’s a complicated answer, but at the core of it all is Heartstyles.
We focus on being a company with Heart and that means we must develop Heart-Led leaders. To do this, we partner with a company called Heartstyles. They help KFC shepherd employees through a behavior-based indicator and a follow-on learning experience with fellow coworkers. That experience helps us learn what our most effective, and ineffective, behaviors are. We are equipped with self-awareness about ourselves and tools to help us shift our most ineffective behaviors into more effective ones. It might sound a bit rudimentary on the surface, but nothing could be farther from the truth. I’ve seen a lot of assessment-based programs that companies put in place, and none of them get you the type of personal and vulnerable development that Heartstyles does.
The great part about it is that it’s a snapshot, a point in time. It’s not a personality test and it isn’t permanent. Rather, Heartstyles helps us understand how we are showing up at a certain point in our lives. That means we can change how we show up as we grow and develop. It’s not just for our professional lives either, which was a really wonderful revelation for me. The things we learn and changes we make transcend work and help us grow as a whole person. Few other places out there can claim that kind of transformative experience and that’s part of what makes KFC so special. It’s not about what type of person you are, it’s about the kind of person you can become – no matter your background or where you’ve come from.
KFC puts people first, plain and simple. It’s a place that makes a promise to all people, that you can Be Your Best Self, Make a Difference, and Have Fun. And Heartstyles is a critical piece of how we do that. If this sounds like an ad, then just call me a spokesperson, because I truly believe KFC’s unique culture makes it the best place to work, grow, and build relationships that last a lifetime.