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People Geekly #32

Issue No. 32, brought to you by Culture Amp
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This is the thirty-second issue of Culture Amp's weekly email updating you on all the best #peoplegeek news around.

 Tweet of the week (2.5 sec)

"Culture is the user experience of the company itself. ~ @randfish"

cloudpeeps  (@cloudpeeps)

Gustavo Veloso writes about several techniques for cultivating good workplace culture in the tech industry, specifically in the engineering arena. The five things to remember include: Trust -  "Give people slightly more trust, freedom and authority than you are comfortable giving them. If you're not nervous, you haven't given them enough.”; A shared sense of responsibility - “Companies with strong cultures have employees that act as founders.”;  A practice-oriented environment - “Pragmatic cultures works. Dogmas don't.”; Tailor-made - remember that there is not one-size-fits-all culture; and Diversity - “Diversity is the key for keeping your culture alive and updated.” Of course, these tips apply beyond engineering. 

Workplace friendship (3 min)

When evaluating friendship in relation to employee engagement, it is important to pay close attention to what data science is really telling us. New York Times Bestselling author Rodd Wagner speaks to this issue in a recent piece published by the Harvard Review. He reminds us that “friendships, by their very nature, arise naturally, not as part of a corporate initiative.”  While forging strong connections at work is beneficial for personal well-being, research shows that it bears very little weight in an employee’s ability to collaborate and be productive. Instead, Wagner encourages leaders to focus on drivers of engagement that they can control such as corporate culture, individuality, freedom from fear, and leadership opportunities just to name a few.

Parenting Leave (5 min 30 sec)  PICK OF THE WEEK

Netflix was praised in the last week for its new parenting leave policy, allowing new moms and dads to take off as much time as they would like in the first year of a a baby’s life. Some have called the policy as “close to ideal” as possible. But this Atlantic piece makes an important point: “the difficulties lie in implementing it in a way that both men and women take advantage of it. This is crucial, because if only women employees take Netflix up on its offer, the generosity of the policy could backfire, pushing women onto a 'mommy track,' with fewer promotions and fewer raises in the offing.” Joan Williams, the director of the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings, suggests companies make a point of actively telling all staff (male and female) that parental leave is expected. There are a number of other suggestions to make sure the policy is administered equally - between genders, as well as between different roles (entry level vs C-suite) in a company.

Transparency (5 min 40 sec)

Over the last few years there has been a push towards companies becoming more transparent. One of the benefits of a transparent culture is that it allows for a better flow of information and building trust within the organization. Aaron Bell, CEO of AdRoll, recently outlined his five tools and techniques to build transparency at scale. He highlighted communication tools being key for reducing barriers between employees and executives as well as using people analytics tools and sharing the results throughout the organization.

General Stanley McChrystal was once in charge of U.S. forces in Afghanistan but now runs a consulting agency called CrossLead. Having dealt with the constantly changing field of battle, McChrystal had to develop a strategy to fight the ever-changing face of Al-Qaeda. He has adapted this strategy to help companies deal with the changing environment of business. He found disseminating power and decision making was the best and fastest way to get things done, but to do this, a company must develop a hive-mind - where information is shared, and plans are transparent. The usual office hierarchy structure is broken down and responsibility is shared. “The problem in Iraq wasn't that operators were disobedient or didn't work hard enough. The problem was that the chain of command was too slow to move as quickly as the enemy did,” says McChrystal.


General Assembly New York is hosting a workshop on Wednesday night on the subject of meditation in the workplace. Meditation classes are offered by organizations such as Facebook, Soundcloud & L'Oreal for their employees as it helps to sharpen your focus, enhance your creativity and improve decision making.

If you are in San Francisco on the 18th of August, or New York on the 20th of August then you’re in luck. Culture Amp is hosting our first People Geekup, a chance for people geeks to come together and network in a fun and relaxing environment. No formal agenda, no speakers or presentations, just a chance for you to make connections with the people geek community.

Great People Analytics teams aren’t hired or built overnight. In this webinar on August 20, Culture Amp’s Steven Huang, the first HR Analyst at Facebook (2011) and Square (2014), will guide us on how to build analysis with existing data and excel: no data scientist or visualization tool needed.

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