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People Geekly #21

Issue No. 21, brought to you by Culture Amp
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This is the twenty-first issue of Culture Amp's weekly email updating you on all the best #peoplegeek news around.

"If you're not empowered to do your best work, find a place where you are." - @anoemi from @StackExchange #CMXSummit”"

 k Michelsen-Correa  (@Hejkristinemc)

"Culture is to employees what branding is to consumers.” Yes! Damian Madras hits it home in this piece explaining how great design cultures create better products. Madras makes the distinction between “design culture” and “vanity culture”, something he defines as gourmet food, amazing communal areas, pool tables, roof tops, patios, etc. While he says there is nothing wrong with this, noting it exists to attract and retain talent, it’s distinct from design culture which has a focus on building and delivering great products. He notes Apple, Facebook, Medium and Zappos all have great design cultures.

"What the CEO said" (6 min 22 sec)

Ever had a conversation with your colleagues around a project you’re working on and someone gives the “but, the CEO said ...” line? Either the CEO said he/she didn’t like it, preferred another approach, etc. Marc Barros believes this can cause a team to hesitate in their own conviction. "The result is bigger than a slightly stalled project, it injects a small amount of doubt that weakens all future decisions that group of people will make,” Barros writes. He has some great suggestions for avoiding the “CEO said” syndrome including knowing who else has reviewed the work, and understanding how close to being complete a project may be.

Organizational debt (7 min) PICK OF THE WEEK 

Steve Blank feels like everyone's wise uncle, and here he does its again in talking about organizational debt. According to Blank, as well as technical debt, startups "accrue another kind of debt - one that can kill the company even quicker - organizational debt. Organizational debt is all the people/culture compromises made to 'just get it done’ in the early stages of a startup." The good news is this debt can be refactored, but it comes with some hard decisions, including assessing if early hires have grown with the company. 

Remote hiring (13 min 15 sec)

Is it possible to hire someone without ever talking to the candidate? For a company like Automattic, which is 100% distributed, face-to-face interviews are not a valid option. Dave Martin, who is responsible for design and growth hiring, uses Skype chat, as opposed to Skype calls, as well as paid trials (candidates are paid on a trial basis initially) to get insight into how the person works. Dave’s team has never had to fire anyone and has a retention rate of 100%, which makes us think he’s on to something here.

Engineering loyalty (18 min 30 sec)

Tiho Bajic, CTO at Nitro, believes the key to retaining engineers is diversity, loyalty and balance. The culture of engineering teams in startups run many people close to burn out (Redbull, anyone?), but as Bajic points out it doesn’t have to be this way. He also notes that one of the casualties of crazy hours and the expectations around teams pulling all-nighters is diversity. Bajic suggests hiring missionaries over mercenaries. "I tell every single candidate I interview, 'Do not talk to me if you can’t really see yourself here for at least several years,’” Bijac says.

BONUS Podcast: Getting hiring right (20 min 20 sec)


HR Tech Industry Networking Event
Join The Starr Conspiracy at their monthly happy hour alongside other people in the HCM industry in San Francisco. 
Wednesday, May 27 at 5:30pm 

Lyft: Hiring and Company Culture 
This month's SF Talent Ops meet up takes a look at the company culture & people practices of Lyft. Hear from Ron Storm, VP of People, over drinks, nibbles & group discussion.
Wednesday, May 27 at 6.30pm

Culture Summit

A one-day conference that brings together successful entrepreneurs, leaders, and culture experts to share their experiences and insights on building strong cultures that lead to successful companies.
Friday, June 26, starts 9am

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