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People Geekly #17

Issue No. 17, brought to you by Culture Amp
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This is the seventeenth issue of Culture Amp's weekly email updating you on all the best #peoplegeek news around. Feel free to tweet us with your thoughts and feedback.

We have some upcoming events in San Francisco and New York - details at the bottom of the newsletter. Come and say hi!

"There’s no magic formula for great company culture. The key is just to treat your staff how you'd like to be treated"

RICHARD BRANSON  (@richardbranson)

Highly effective teams (4 min, 40 min video)

Toph Brown and his team decided to “do a retrospective” to uncover how they operate as a team. They drew upon the Agile Manifesto, which presents principles together as opposing ideas, such as "individuals and interactions over processes and tools". While you might not agree with all 7 habits, this write-up is really all about the process. The article concludes with a video with some very detailed data on the team and what they uncovered. As Toph and his team found, there is no universal formula, it’s about taking the time to find what works for you.

This post ain't about you (6 min 20 sec)

Beth Steinberg asks, if scaling great companies is about building great leaders, why do we focus so little time, money and attention in this area? She comes up with some warning signs of leadership gone wrong and how people can avoid them. They include too much self-focus and hubris, giving people new titles as promotions rather than building their competency, and rewarding for the wrong things. "Don’t force people into leading if that is not their path,” says Steinberg. "Dual career ladders absolutely exist in every great organization and people should feel encouraged to pursue either path. Companies need both skill sets to thrive."

Julie Zhuo has been responsible for hiring some of the best design talent in the world at Facebook during her 8 years with the organization. She says researching who designed your favorite products was one way to find candidates besides just using LinkedIn. Whilst it might be easier to filter candidates by things like what school they went to, it’s also important to remember that for every degree-qualified candidate there is also a great designer who has learnt independently. When identifying the right people to interview, you want to find designers who have looked for opportunities in their own lives: problems that need fixing.

Other Machine CEO Danielle Appleston shares how she has managed to build a hardware startup where 11 of her 21 employees are female. But, as this piece points out, what "makes Other Machine stand out from its colleagues is how the company itself is an empowerment factory.” The company has deliberately created a corporate culture that aims to demonstrate that women don’t just belong, "but are absolutely poised to flourish in a technology industry all too eager to make excuses for its testosterone imbalance.” It starts with their hiring process. Applestone doesn’t just pick through the applicant pool that comes to her; she goes out and actively looks for qualified women.“The ladies know where the ladies are,” she says.

Eric Jorgenson opens this article with a question we've been asking ourselves for a while – can we stop using the word “retention" and go with employee engagement instead? Hear, hear. With this tweak of the language, Eric goes on to tackle a number of sacred cows - that zero turnover is a sensible target, that all turnover is bad and that the obligations of employment are summed up by the employment contract.  Eric challenges us to consider "treating employees as customers of management”. 

EVENTS (roll up, roll up):

If you're in SAN FRANCISCO, we're partnering with Udemy to bring you this fantastic event on the future of HR. Register now

If you're in NEW YORK, our own amazing data scientist and organizational psychologist Jason McPherson will be chatting about ways to stop people from leaving. Sign up here.

A bonus link! We couldn't help but have a chuckle at the BusinessTown Tumbr.

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