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People Geekly #12

Issue No. 12, brought to you by Culture Amp
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Welcome to the 12th issue of Culture Amp's weekly email updating you on all the best #peoplegeek news around. 

First up, here's the TL;DR of our Benchmark report: Your top tech talent is about to love you and leave you

"One way to preserve a good and healthy company culture is to not promote jerks in to management positions."

Vala afshar  (@ValaAfshar)

In a bid to stay ahead of the curve, Airbnb encourages its employees to think about how it will be disrupted (a pre-mortem, of sorts). It’s a great innovation strategy, but there is more to it than that - it’s also an exercise in organizational alignment and teamwork. Pre-mortems are a process used to identify potential hiccups that might not be obvious at the outset of a project. "Doing it as a group ensures that the entire team is aware of those pitfalls-that-may-be, and and encourages the kind of collaborative thinking that could turn up even more of them over the course of the conversation,” writes Adam Vaccaro.

Building an amazing team  (3 min) PICK OF THE WEEK 

We talk often on The People Geekly about building an amazing culture, but what about amazing teams? After all, one enables the other. Jackie Xu summarizes a talk she gave on the topic, and makes the important point that early on you shouldn’t try and compete with big companies on perks and salaries, but rather "articulate your vision and make sure the candidate is on board.” Next up is passion, which needs to be contagious and come from the founders. When it comes to your first hires you need to make sure that the first ten are all-stars, writes Xu. She also advises that recruiting is a “long game” and that you need to invest in it early.

Remote work (7 min 20 sec)

From the guy who wrote “The Year Without Pants”, Scott Berkun, here’s an interesting post on why remote work isn’t more popular. As Berkun points out: "As a general rule the slowest thing to change about civilization is human nature. It’s easier to upgrade technology, but when it comes to people’s habits and beliefs change takes time.” Could remote work be the norm for the future though? Berkun says it's more popular than you think, with people working somewhere other than their office one day a week or more. And it's been on the rise for years. It’s a trend that should not be ignored, and one that's success depends on company culture. "A company that is truly progressive, trusting, collaborative and communicates well will fare better with remote work than one that is hierarchical, political and territorial,” Berkun says.

When hiring new employees, particularly engineers, a haphazard onboarding process can decrease productivity, even when dealing with qualified engineers. "We talk a lot in engineering about technical debt, but few people talk about what I call 'team debt’,” writes Kate Heddleston. Team debt is the idea that "when employees aren't properly trained, integrated, or managed, they are operating at less than optimal efficiency.” The best way to avoid team debt is to create effective onboarding processes, that is one that "helps increase the teamwork multiple so that it's greater than one."

This is pretty comprehensive read on why companies often fail to execute on strategy, but this point, in particular, got our attention - the myth that performance culture drives execution. As noted "a company’s true values reveal themselves when managers make hard choices.” It’s vital that a culture that supports execution also recognizes and rewards other things as well, such as agility, teamwork, and ambition. "Many companies fall short in this respect,” write the authors. "When making hiring or promotion decisions, for example, they place much less value on a manager’s ability to adapt to changing circumstances—an indication of the agility needed to execute strategy—than on whether she has hit her numbers in the past.” Another thing worth noting is that “fewer than one-third of managers say they can have open and honest discussions about the most difficult issues, while one-third say that many important issues are considered taboo."

Also, a headsup, our friends at LifeLabs, are holding a free webinar on Friday April 17, 1pm-2pm EST on "Navigating change". It's described as a brain-friendly checklist for how to support people in times of change and uncertainty. 

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