I am going to say ‘I knew Jess before she was famous’ because I did know Jess and I am certain she is going to be famous 🤣. Part 1 of a great looking 3 part series on performance and compensation, focusing on how to measure performance and the unavoidable qualitative nature of it. Part 2 is already out here and well, Part 3 is going to make an appearance here at some point also. Follow Jess
So now that you’re fully versed on GAI and want to operationalise it into your working processes, what is the best way to do this in a responsible way? Outstanding post in the format of the FAQ + Answer, where both the questions and the responses are thoughtful, practical and ethical. One to read if you’re about do some ‘AI-enabling’ at some point, preferably before you do it. H/T to brainfooder Marcel van der Meer for the share in the online community
A fascinating provocation which makes more sense when you think about it; if all decisions were made from ‘the data’ alone, they wouldn’t actually be decisions but rather the results of an equation. And we would have never had the moments of inspiration which lead to genuine break through innovations, especially when seeking to serve unknown user / customer / citizen needs. Important corrective to the consensus of data driven decision making.
Entertaining post which uses story telling personas to think about leadership and how to do it with different types of character. Underneath the levity there are some serious points made, including the necessity of understanding the personality and motivations of each of your team members and giving each of them attention as if they are the main character. Great read
Rare to see a public figure of the stature of economist Mariana Mazzucato go for an entire industry sector like this, but I got to say, I’m kind of enjoying it 🤣. Not just invective though, Mazzucato has genuine concerns as to how professional consultancies have provided government officials with an opportunity to delegate authority or abdicate on responsibility.
You can trust brainfooder Tim Sackett to consistently come with new angles to examine already covered ground. Carlson’s unexpected exit from Fox News briefly became the dominant story in Western media last week and it can provide some salient lessons for employers and employees alike, especially on the need to avoid invitations for gossip. Always smart, always readable - do it here.
Now this is fascinating research; we all kind of know that new hires get paid a premium as employers compete for the hard-to-hire with aggressive compensation offers, but not for every job category and not to the same degree. For front line workers, tenure remains correlated with highest comp. Interesting nuance on what might otherwise be understood as settled debate.
Textual analysis of 3 million Glassdoor reviews reveals divergence in how men vs women report on and experience company culture, corroborating findings in the latest Women in the Workplace report by LeanIn.org from 2022. Interestingly, ‘lack of respect by managers’ was considered the single most significant reason behind the subsequent description of the company culture as being ‘toxic’. Do managers need more training, do we need to get rid of managers or what? Have a read here
Great conversation with brainfooder Brian Fink on the topic of psychological safety in the workplace, who virtually meets the most melodious voice on recruitment podcasting, brainfooder Marcus Edwardes. Two great guys not afraid to disagree. Have a listen here
If the best management is about getting out of the way of employees, then maybe we can learn something from this approach - “digitally enhanced directed autonomy,” or DEDA. The idea is straightforward - provide the resources usually bottlenecked by management - in a shared platform which employees can digitally access at any time. If the purpose of management is to translate executive direction to employee output, it made most sense when the flow of information was the problem; with these frictions removed, the purpose of the managerial class will need to be rewritten.
This is the sort of book review which really adds value to the original tome. Dr Alice Evans reviews the above titled book by Michele Gelfand, and does an outstanding job of outlining the main theory - that the sense of external threat (lack of security) promotes homogeneity / groupthink, whilst diversity of thinking only emerges when that that sense of threat is reduced. ‘Threat inflation’ then is an effective technique for forging internal alignment, a technique we can clearly see if we take one step back from the latest media furore. Can this technique be applied to company culture? Would it be ethical to do so? Has anyone done it?? Lots to ponder in an accessible essay.
Hilarious introduction to the ‘Circuit City Grift’ by TikToker Alex Pearlman who realises from Elon Musk’s most recent public exchange with a former employee that Twitter actually no longer has a functioning HR department. I’m sure its a skit for laughs rather than an actual recommendation but it does get you thinking what you should do when a company loses it’s employee records…
Culture Amp is another company which does exceptional research work on their area of expertise. Here they apply their know-how on employee engagement in the context of redundancy - unsurprisingly, engagement collapses during lay offs, including amongst those ‘non-affected’. Of course, everyone is affected and TA / HR need to pay due attention.
Read it and weep Recruiters - it’s us who are the most over represented category when a tech company decides to make redundancies. It makes sense folks - and despite our protestations of company shortsightedness, it would be weird for a company cutting back not to lay us off first. Data from Revelio Labs shows what the score was 9 months ago at early stages of the Big Tech Winter. Does the pattern still follow today? Waiting for the update.
Ron Howard is one of the great directors of our era, which is weird for the older folks here who can’t get over the fact that he was Richie Rich in Happy Days. Some wisdom here on how to build a long career, collaborate with strong heads and keep the direction as the leader. H/T to brainfooder Bas van de Haterd for the share.
Google has been in the headlines of late, suddenly a company that is being talked about as if on the edge of crisis. The problems are all cultural says this Xoogler, who takes inspiration from Bob Dylan lyrics whilst breaking down the 4 main problems he sees in Google culture: No Mission, No Urgency, Delusions of Exceptionalism and - Mismanagement. Brilliant essay, worth reading for anyone concerned about company culture.
Start of an interesting looking series from our buddies Culture Amp on how layoffs impact employee engagement scores, and what employers really need to be doing about it. There are no easy solutions here, but it is good thing to see some sort of quantification behind what we know already. Can employers under stress (‘going through change’ as it is rather euphemistically put) maintain a commitment to employee engagement? It’s a big test of your company culture.
One of the annual classics, PwC conducts a survey of 1300 CEO’s from over 90 countries on their sentiments and strategy for 2023. CEO’s are (rightly) pessimistic about the economy, but energised by what they need to do about - increase organisational effectiveness, transform into a skills based organisation, increase internal flexibility and external collaboration. CEO’s need our skills folks, and HR / TA needs to be clear in our ability to service this need. Accessible report, must read - download it here
Compelling conversation with two of my favourite people in the community - brainfooders Sophie Power with Ruth Penfold-Brown. It’s always fascinating to hear personal stories from people you’ve known for a little while and its inspiring to hear Ruth reflect on her life and career journey to date. Some amazing words of wisdom here, particularly on the power of coaching. It’s the questions you don’t like to ask yourself that are the ones which need to be answered!
What is company culture? If it is just an aggregation of compatible working styles, then we shouldn’t really have that much emphasis for team bonding, company cohesion, employee well being and the like. The unstated reality is that the reason why we do value those things is because a company is first and foremost a social organisation where members needs to ‘get along’ before they are able to do any sort of job for the team. Plenty to think about in this post - maybe time to grasp the sociological reality of a being in a company?
We’ve been hearing that employers are going to have make the office a place worth leaving the home for, so how about just making everybody a second home? Genius level creativity from this one company who reimagined the open plan office space a mini village, where everybody has their own home. It’s undeniably cute…and you can see it having a positive effect. Great as an EB stunt also, think of the viral potential you have with this type of set up.
Fun story from the world of football, where Serie A football club Salernitana reappointed manager Davide Nicola, two days after being impulsively sacked by club president Danilo Iervolino after a 8-2 loss to Atalanta. "You only realise how much you love someone when they leave," Iervolino said. On the one hand you have to condemn the rashness of decision making, on the other recognise the humility it takes to reverse a very public decision. I have to say, I’m rooting for Salernitana now until the end of the season 🤣
I predict that Less Wrong will be one of the survivors of the post-ChatGPT blogging world. The ideas and the language used to express them are going to be tough for even the most well trained AI to reproduce. This post channels Cyril Northcote Parkinson in it’s critique of middle management, but also an explanation as to why it will be inevitably so as an organisation scales. Worth chewing over this, as company’s crunch down in scale and the mantra of smaller, leaner, faster takes over grow-at-all-costs hyper scaling as the dominant paradigm.
We talked about the psychological impact of unexpected involuntary redundancy in Brainfood Live Ep183, and it seems that the suddenness of being cut off has a disproportionate impact on how the affected employee feels about. Google’s redundancy package was actually extraordinarily generous, but it was the below par expectation setting and off boarding that produced the typical outcry. Interestingly, the phenomenon of day-in-the-life TikTokers give us direct insight into the psychology. This thoughtful post from a current Googler finds the balance between competing priorities of company security vs employee empathy, avoiding the dual temptations of defensiveness or condemnation.
What an interesting resource, from one of the most interesting company cultures around. If you have been following the work of the likes of brainfooders Deborah Caulet and Mertcan Uzun, Blinkist really have gone their own way, often counter consensus, following the most important dictum of all - know who you are build the culture from inside out.
Fascinating exploration of the organisational complexity, where the answer is basically ‘yes’, they do, the reason being that as organisations grow, they become more complex and ‘coordination headwind’ becomes the decisive factor in slowing everything down. I call this ‘cost of collaboration’ which amounts to the same thing, you need to be atomic if you want to move fast.
Exceptional essay from a software engineer who does indeed learn some hard truths. No1 - that getting laid off is a profoundly lonely experience - really struck home with me, particularly as this was a recurring theme in the Brainfood Live we hosted on psychological impact of redundancy late last year. Worth a read for all of us here - to help mentally prep for the inevitable for ourselves, but also as a primer for giving the right type of support when others in your network need it most. H/T to brainfooder Martyn Redstone for the share in the fb group
Nobody knows what’s going to happen - we are part of a hugely dynamic, complicated system of billions of moving parts, many of which are under studied and under weighted. I’m personally going to try and test my prediction ability on Metaculus next year, with my baseline being the cartoon series which gets it right more than many others
So David Green one such influencer we should all be following by now. His compilation of 12 HR Trends is a collaborative effort with some of the smartest people in industry, in the end becoming part forecast, part call to action. Like all forecasts you will agree with some more than others, but all of it will be food for the thought in the future. Have a read here, follow David here.
If you like me have been away from TED Talks for a little while, then this selection of the most popular talks might bring you back. Format - as ever - is excellent; long enough to dive deep enough into profundity but not so deep that you end up drowning in revelation. Pick your favourite here, I’m heading straight toward David Harris’s ‘The Benefits of Not Being a Jerk to Yourself’.
300,000 survey responses from workers at 27,000 employers from 105 countries, taken before during and ‘after’ the pandemic on how they feel about their employers, across 6 dimensions. It’s brief document with some interesting broad strokes but - I have to say - the information architecture could stand for revision, the thing looks like a dashboard from the cockpit of a 747. Maybe ChatGPT outputs have started already to rewire my brain as to how dense information should be presented 🤣. Anyways, H/T to brainfooder Colin Donnery for the share.
Copycat behaviour, says Stanford Graduate School of Business Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer, who makes the bold and unorthodox claim that layoffs are mainly made not from prudent cost/benefit analysis, but through the reverse of the herd mentality which led to hyper growth in the first place - mimetically aping the behaviour of competitor organisations. It’s a mind virus in other words, the irrational contagiousness of which making the overall impact ever worse. Interesting read, lots to think about.
Pay transparency has been one of the themes of 2022, led in many cases in the US with state level regulation. This is a great overview from our buddies Celential as to the current patch work state of pay transparency in the US, as well presenting a coherent argument why employers should move toward adopting it regardless of the compliance requirements. Significant implications for recruitment advertising for US employers here
So you know already that Ethan Mollick is one of my must follow recommendations on Twitter, and so his Substack is now a must subscribe. This post collects together research on how to have better meetings, complete with a concise and hard-to-argue with framework. And as a it of fun, a historical CIA memo on how to disrupt your enemies by having bad meetings, which is disturbing given how much we might recognise from our own corporate experience….
Can we find method in the Muskian madness? Stay Saasy makes the attempt and concludes that Musk’s approach can be understood as a speed run of a ‘standard executive transition’, albeit one played to extremes and in semi-public manner. It’s an overly generous appraisal but some useful insight here, especially on SET framework.
Probably no need for a trigger warning with a title like this 🤣. Uncompromising and perhaps a little unfair commentary from employment lawyer Branigan Robertson, who nevertheless makes a valid point - HR play both sides, but they - we - are only ever on one side. H/T to brainfooder Stephen O’Donnell for the share in fb group.
No huge revelations in this Qualtrics report on ‘what employees want’, though notable that there is increased interest in company success, which might otherwise be known as interest in personal job security. I get the feeling that most employers are doing what they can, with very few wandering away from mainstream prescriptions, all of which are dependent on robust revenue. Readable report, download it hereH/T to brainfooder Vicki Saunders for the share
Not content with firing 50% of the staff the week previously, Elon Musk kept up the pace this week with an email announcing that Twitter 2.0 can only be achieved by being ‘extremely hardcore’, predictably triggering another round of mass departures. Hard to know how many employees Twitter has left but it may be less than 5% of the 7500 they had before the Musk takeover. We’ve never seen this type of cultural triage before, and certainly not played out in public on the very platform the company operates. One thing is for sure - this is culture change - and a fascinating test of the hypothesis that the quickest way to effect transformation, is to take it to the edge of destruction….
Massive wave of layoffs in a depressing week for tech, led of course by Elon Musk’s brutal guillotining of half of the Twitter workforce. This is a tough part of business but you can do it another way. Stripe CEO Patrick Collison predictably plants a signpost in that direction and it’s well worth reading his letter to employees for the empathetic tone and unambiguous generosity of the severance. Different CEO’s, very different company culture.
An oldie from Esther Perel but its timelessly relevant. Here she is giving a real time counselling session to two people who have experienced redundancy and why it is important to not use the trauma of the exit as the only shared bond they have. Important lesson for anyone undergoing redundancy. H/T brainfooder Petar Vujosevic for the share
Talking about layoffs, Meta took the axe to 13% of their 90,000 or so workforce last week. First time ever for Mark Zuckerberg - a fact worth noting - and credit must be due for the manner in which it was done. Read his letter to employees here. The obvious contrast is Musk era Twitter, where cruelty seems to be the point, and constant escalation, the main technique to drive culture change. H/T to brainfooder Colin McNicol for the share in the fb group
Few podcasters have the capability to attract a guest quality like brainfooder Lars Schmidt. Here he is with NASA Chief Human Capital Officer Jane Datta - talk about a mission focused organisation. Must listen folks.
Brilliant essay on what makes a certain type of business a ‘professional services’ consultancy. We need more content like this, clear and concise categorisation of business according to type. It’s not what the company does, but how its structured that determines the culture. Relevant for all job seekers, including recruiters on the market considering options.
Google wanted to train their engineers to be more emotionally intelligent, and brought in psychologists, neuroscientists and linguists to develop a course. This twitter thread is the concise version of it.
Few podcasters have the capability to attract a guest quality like brainfooder Lars Schmidt. Here he is with NASA Chief Human Capital Officer Jane Datta - talk about a mission focused organisation. Must listen folks.
Brilliant essay on what makes a certain type of business a ‘professional services’ consultancy. We need more content like this, clear and concise categorisation of business according to type. It’s not what the company does, but how its structured that determines the culture. Relevant for all job seekers, including recruiters on the market considering options.
Google wanted to train their engineers to be more emotionally intelligent, and brought in psychologists, neuroscientists and linguists to develop a course. This twitter thread is the concise version of it.
Is culture really just runway? Been thinking about this a little while and I think I’m going to write it up at some point. Another example of another startup biting the dust, yet another one with an amazing culture before the money runs out, staff go unpaid and CEO goes off the rails…
Lars Schmidt is one of the best people in our business. I’m proud to call him a friend, and I think we should listen to this monologue on living with grief, with an important message for those of us who design bereavement leave policies.
Huge 200 pager on company culture on O.C Tanner. Bangs on a bit about the ‘talent magnet’ concept and feels like its trying a bit too hard to connect concept to consequence, but some decent ideas here. Thankfully, there is a navigable website, as well as the PDF. Worth a look. H/T to brainfooder John Rose in the fb group
Always great writing from Gergely Orosz (follow his twitter, especially tech recruiters), and a great complement to the post on Tech Layoffs earlier in this newsletter. Here we’re talking about using performance plan changes as a predictor for coming layoffs - I think a decent signal.
We know social movements can emerge from social media - for good or ill, it is a place where an idea can take root and propagate if it achieves enough endorsement - and perhaps algorithmic boosting. Salary Transparent Street might be one of those, 850,000 followers and counting. Good report of the phenomena from the Beeb.
PS: we are going to do a How to Source on TikTok on Brainfood Live next month, follow the channel here to be notified of it!
Well this is fascinating scenario - senior exec on the brink of burn out quits 7 figure salary to become an Amazon warehouse worker. Sounds a little like text-to-speech, but its listenable and if true, opens up a window on how Amazon conducts its warehouse recruitment. Have a listen.
So it seems I’ve stumbled into some sort of rabbit hole in US employment law, and the more you uncover, the more there is to know; training clawback clauses as a retention strategy seems to be a thing - I hope, a rare thing - as misguided employers wage the war on talent, rather than for talent.
Perhaps employers can use Trung Phan’s AI bot to help with processing open text responses from survey data; seems like a lot of work to process and categorise employee survey responses, yet it is clear that such data contains great insight on how employees might really feel about things. Decent manual experiment, in need of a tool.
Superb piece of investigative journalism by Gergely Orosz (follow on Twitter), on the rapid collapse of events startup, Pollen. Particularly interesting is the correlation between how well funded a company is vs how highly rated the company culture was…before the money ran out. How much of ‘great company culture’ is really just long runway? Lot of food for thought on this compulsive read.
Culture Amp do an amazing job with online communication, and the design quality of this website is a superb example. Some great insight on the impact of high attrition to employee experience, as well as a cool tool to model which stage or type of business you are currently in. Excellent, high quality recruitment content. Must read folks. H/T to brainfooder Ivan Harrison for the share
Interesting chart in the middle of this HBR piece showed the changes in keywords associated with CEO of job posts, with a clear increase in the requirement for better people skills. Is automation / digitisation already taking away the information processing skills that were once core to the executive role? Or are we just ‘in a moment’ when it comes to hiring for empathy?
Turns out lesser paid employees are more likely to also state that ‘their psychological needs are not being met’ compared to their better compensated colleagues. McKinsey suggests a few solutions, apart from the bleeding obvious. Rather makes me wonder how much management might really be displacement activity for inequitable pay. Brainfood on two levels, have a read…
Clearer Thinking is one of those non-recruitment podcasts that nevertheless consistently covers topics which are at least adjacent to our work. This one, on the type of culture you based on how you communicate. Excellent listening.
Directed at Startup founders, this comprehensive yet concise recommendations post contains some very decent parts on team, recruiting, culture and layoffs. Well worth reading for those parts alone, but enriching to read the rest of it also. Have a go here.
I’m generally more ‘emergent’ than intentional but in one area where I think design is better than improv is communication, especially in distributed companies. Some great concepts delivered in this well referenced post, including the image you see in the thumbnail, detailing how adding people to teams exponentially increases the number of potential connections (or disruptions)…
It seems that in highly credentialised professions - lawyers, doctors etc - as high as 85% of career earnings could be attributed to pre-work qualifications. In fields with lower barriers to entry, work experience becomes the dominant factor. Stuff we know of course, but great to see the attempt to measure it. Also includes advice on how employers can cultivate social mobility by prompting internal job moves. Really good brainfood. H/T to brainfooder Petar Vujosevic for the share
Nothing wrong with any of these rules, and refreshing to hear them stated in this way. It would be step in the right direction if we adopted more of these and put them into practice. H/T brainfooder Chaya Trevor for the share
This article really should be ‘above the fold’ but well done for those of you who have made it so far - it’s a hidden treat, packed full of practical ideas with sound theoretical foundations on managing cultural change as the team and company scales. One for the culture architects and team leaders / managers
It feels like pay transparency has inexorable momentum - the holdouts are the mature organisations with loads of ‘culture debt’ built up over years of variably paying employees based on decentralised 1-2-1 negotiations. I would imagine every new company starting from scratch would go pay transparent - especially if you plan to hire from Gen Z workforce. Any disagree with this projection?
I had the pleasure of chatting with Chris on his Purpose Led Leadership podcast two weeks ago, and it is fascinating now to hear him from the other side, as the guest. His story is remarkable and wellworth a listen.
Bit of a personal one this, but I accepted the invitation to join Chris O'Connell on his outstanding interview series, Purpose Led Leadership. I’m not sure I’m the best guy to giving anyone leadership lessons, but I do share some thoughts that I haven’t shared much anywhere else. Have a listen and let me know what you think.
Change management is all about communication folks. This excellent post outlines the reasons why with enough psychology in the explanation, along with some plausible illustrations to make the case. Also full of fun mnemonics to help us apply the learning ;-)
Some more juicy brainfood from BBC Worklife - what the new resentments that we may be bringing into the office, having spent the best part of two years working in the comfort of our own homes. I think …we are likely to have become less tolerant.…
Until very recently, it was against the law to eat lunch at your desk in France. The reasoning was straightforward and endured for more than a century: eating in the workplace is hazardous to your health.
So begins this fascinating piece of social commentary on the place of lunch as a boundary marker where obligations to employer should stop.
A key theme in this piece of research from brainfooder Sarah White is the ‘empathy gap’ between Boss vs Employee on stress and mental health. It shouldn’t be surprising that the further away you are from owning the business, the greater the risk of misalignment on priorities. Have a read here.
Important post on the reframing required when discussing company culture. What is a good or bad culture is so often contextual to the individual employee, but it turns out there is a better way of thinking about it. It’s about being transparent in who you really are, and thus enabling effective candidate self selection. Must read
Lynda Gratton is one of the foremost thinkers on the workplace, and so it is always a pleasure to hear talk about the new role for managers, especially on the overload managers are currently experiencing with the shift to holistic management and remote working.
Momentum is shifting for organisations moving to 4 day week, especially as a potential compromise to workers in exchange for a return-to-office. Useful white paper from Henley Business School, summary of Nov 2021 survey of 2000 employees from 500 businesses. Have a read here if you plan on making this shift.
I can’t work out whether I’m more impressed by the content (mainly organisational design / company culture) or the presentation (it’s ….a work of art). Incredible website which is truly like nothing you’ve ever seen before.
Sometimes it’s fun to watch classic old talks (now meaning anything before 2019) and see how people thought about the future. This one from Salim Ismail remains one of the best, and as he talks about organisations fit for this future, relevant for us here.
Routines produce efficiency (and perhaps mental health) but they can concurrently reduce learning capability. Turns out that simply being exposed to new things helps the brain prepare to learn, so with the learnings of this post in mind, you can start preparing your team for the chaos ahead by introducing it in a controlled manner…
We hate the term ‘culture fit’ but the underlying concept of hiring people who are compatible with the existing team is valid enough that a future rebrand of the idea is going to be inevitable. Interesting research here on how low EQ individuals lower collective intelligence, because of cognitive energy expenditure required by everyone else to align down the guy who can’t ‘read the room’.
To-the-point recommendations on how to hire for outstanding talent. Love this post because despite its brevity it manages to squeeze in concepts like ‘healthy psychological ecology’ in the DEIB recommendation. Concision like this is a valid signal of acuity. Must read
Two legit heavyweights have the expected enlightened conversation on the future of work, and of the importance of managers. Only 5000 views on this 30 minute conversation, certainly deserves more. Super relevant to everyone here.
As we are on the subject of pay, one of the largest 4 day week experiments is happening in the UK right now - 70 employers, 1000’s of employees are shifting to a 4 day week on full pay. This doesn’t appear to be compressed hours, so its a true reduction of work time. Love to hear from people who are involved in this - get in touch if you are! H/T to brainfooder Caroline Hunter for the share.
I love listening to non-HR non-TA people talk about culture and team building. This is a great conversation between two tech leaders who have experimented and implemented. It has Wardley mapping in it anyway, so it gets my vote for a listen.
When the obvious seems revolutionary there is something wrong with the system. Simple thread on how one company does compensation, and it’s perhaps its an exemplar of that new social contract we heard so much about a year or so ago. Again, great stuff on Twitter if you follow the right folks on it.
So you’ve heard a French guy and a Chinese-Dutch-Anglo guy talk about politics, how about we get two Americans to do the same? It’s brainfooders Julie Sowash and Torin Ellis on the same topic, with a different take!
We….kind of know why. People who are good at their jobs routinely get promoted into bigger jobs they’re bad at or they have never been trained to do. A widely acknowledged problem but do we have any answers? Have a listen here.
Very decent crowdsource from our buddies Down Under - a simple website showcasing the parental leave policies of a number of organisations, with a form to fill in at the bottom if you want your organisations data to be included. No reason why this could not be replicated in your country, so take some inspiration from this folks. H/T to brainfooder Mark Mansour for the share.
Company culture is a domain that is dominated by people in HR / TA. But what do employees actually think about it? Important survey conducted by which centres the employees rather than HR. Spoiler alert: some of their opinions will chafe against our cherished conventions…
Fast becoming my favourite podcast, Freakonomics Radio continues to surprise with interesting angles on interesting case studies, most of which are related to the world of work. This one, on the failure of ideas to move, provides an analytical toolkit to better understand failure, and by reverse engineering, how to succeed.
With Meta freezing hiring last week, as well as a number of prominent tech companies announcing lay offs, it could be that the market has already turned to take into the account the exogenous factors of weak growth, record inflation, high energy prices and hostile de-globalisation. Or it could be that companies are just artificially pumped with VC money. Excellent post using the story of Gumroad as an example of what happens to company culture and hiring imperatives when you take a shed load of money….
Readers of my LinkedIn newsletter (👈 you need follow this on LinkedIn btw) will know that I am believer in the ‘open kitchen’ approach to business operations, as customers do indeed want to know how the sausages are made. This example from TRAFFIT is an outstanding demonstration what this looks like in practice. I’m speaking with brainfooder Mick Griffin on Salary Transparency on Brainfood Live later this month - register here to know more about this approach to. business.
Do we re-enact our family drama’s in the workplace? Fascinating interview with psychotherapist Naomi Shragai on how our early childhood interactions imprint a template on our social interactions which we then bring into the office….
A fun new term for us to learn - instead of the ‘a-ha’ moment of revelation, how about the ‘duh-ha’ moment of obvious insight 🤣? Old post from Adam Grant but resurfacing up here because of it’s clarity of purpose - how the provision of the obvious can be an effective lever for change. Have a read.
Cool collaboration from two of brainfood’s buddies, Ledgy and Hibob, on the challenge mid-sized businesses have in putting together a competitive comp package for in-demand candidates. What do you do when you can’t offer the mega bucks of the enterprise, nor the equity of the startups? You need a ‘full stack compensation strategy, tied to company culture’. Readable and downloaded document
Trigger warnings on this one folks. A tough circumstance but one which we may well have to get used to as more of us continue to work remote first organisations. No expertise attempted or offered in this account, it is simply a description of what happened to this team and what they did afterward.
Twitter threading at its best, a series of insightful and practical recommendations on how to be a better manager. Example: ‘I will not schedule a meeting without an agenda’. Simple rules for better management.
I suspect that a very large majority of readers of this newsletter would agree with the premise of this headline - the curiosity is why too many meetings continue to happen, and what our contribution is to the phenomenon. ‘Over collaboration’ I think is an underlying cause, we need to promote more ‘atomic’ work rather than contingent work. Easy reading, with great references to original research and commentary.
The first Letter to Shareholders from an Amazon CEO that isn’t Jeff Bezos, Andy Jassy’s 2021 Letter turns out to be a stunner, especially on the 3rd act where he outlines hiring and organisational practices which he believes helps Amazon be the extraordinary business they are. Well worth a read in its entirety but especially that 7 point list in the last third of the letter. H/T brainfooder Garry Turner for the share.
Interesting podcast from Reid Hoffman, whose 1-5 recommendations are not really that surprising, but are superbly illustrated with observations from A-Listers that only someone that Hoffman could secure. H/T to brainfooder Bas van de Haterd for the share.
Is the Twitter thread the next ‘talent database’? This is a pretty good example - and I think - a superior way of doing it compared to a custom built website, especially if your manager has significant audience. See how each tweet naturally becomes a cameo portrait of the employee. Pretty cool huh?
I dislike rankings most of the time, but this one comes from LinkedIn’s proprietary data and is an attempt to quantify company culture. For example, one of the ranking factors is ‘how long an employee stays at an employer’ used a signal to score employee care. That Amazon rank No1 should tell us a lot about how media narratives are shaped to tell stories rather than truths. H/T to brainfooder Colin McNicol in the fb group
Founded during Industrial Revolution, James McKinsey set about professionalizing the way businesses were managed, and some 100 years later, the business he founded remain top of a category they created and continue to dominate. 1 hour podcast on the history of this iconic business. Worthy brainfood folks.
Disappointingly short post from LinkedIn, but some interesting things to think about nonetheless, especially on how boomerang hiring rates vary according to industry. Do you know your industry rate, how does your company compare?
I think we all agree on this, and yet we keep on having meetings overload. Are we ‘communicating’ or doing something else? The evidence is clear, we need to be militant against unnecessary meetings. Easy read from HBR, along with some easy-on-the-eye charts to illustrate the point.
One of the best management blogs around at the moment, Stay Sassy makes insightful observations on common organisational challenges in language any one can understand. This one about seniority conflict between members of different departments, surely resonates with us recruiters…
Love these ReadMe exercises, especially when managers do them so that direct reports can better understand how to interact with them. The Brainfood Tribune was kind of like this, but perhaps we need someone more specific and more concise - a one pager to describe how you like to interact / collaborate. Would this be a useful thing to build?
Excellent tips on how to have better digital communication in shared spaces. Key points for me were - use of public over private channels, limit the DM’s (they cannot be mined or used by others) and make use of emoji’s. We need to be trained in all of this.
Speaking about happiness, here is a short post from Stack Overflow on what makes developers happy at work. You will not be surprised it is basically what makes most people happy at work - autonomy, not too much work, good team mates. Question is, how to engineer this?
A new HR term to learn - ‘moral injury’ - something that people suffer when they are pressured to make decisions which contravenes their ethics. Another management dilemma to wrestle with especially as society becomes ethically ever more divergent, important read for those who care about a healthy company culture.
Report from Cognizant on how employees perceive employer commitment to purpose. Lots to think about here, including the sense of ‘will even everything ever be enough’ but management guidance is sound and practical. Have a read
Beautifully designed report on the ‘state of burnout’ in tech. It’s not just about the cute Pacman theme though, as it adds some real psychological insight into what burnout is and how it manifests. Deservingly shared multiple times in the fb group, so thanks to brainfooders Alexandru Gotoi, Martyn Redstone and Denys Dinkevych 🇺🇦 - it’s a must read folks.
So this thread kind of loses its way after point 13) but it does surface up some important ideas such as the loss of implicit knowledge that occurs when talent rotation is too fast in a team or business. In other words, we need to either build in redundant capacity for senior / experienced / important members of the team (hire they replacement before they go) or document the knowledge and make it explicit. Anyway, it’s a tough read but there is something here. Give it a chew and let me know if you get through it.
I think this is the way most employers are going to go - building and publishing their comp calculator, so that you candidates and employees alike can see how much they and everyone else in the business is being paid. Wait, I take it back - I think this is the way upper quartile payers are going to go, as comp transparency will quickly become EB and a deliciously subtle symbol of elitism to boot. Good example here by Codacy on how to do it though, so if your company are good enough, check it out 😉
Want to know the quickest way to separate rhetoric from reality when it comes to company (or personal) values? Force a choice. Life is about trade offs folks, so why do you try this thought experiment - what is your corporate anti-value? It’s the difference between what you really stand for vs virtual signalling. Must read
Extraordinary essay that not only provides a timeline of the Western world’s solutions to poverty, but also why each method fails because it erroneously considers mindset to be ‘free floating’, free from the urgency of material constraints. Long story short - if people have material insecurity, positive mindset isn’t going to solve it. Now apply to employees who similarly might now be feeling precarity of some form or other. Must read folks.
…truth is not something to be viewed objectively but instead to be subjectively experienced…
As the information environment becomes ever more complex, our response has been to create our own safe spaces in order to control the flow, leading to increasingly divergence of shared realities. How do we create a bridge? Sounds dumb but we don’t need more data, what we need is more anecdote.
Should managers be relieved of hiring responsibilities? Professional services businesses, which by nature of their work, frequently rotate associates project-to-project, have shown us that it can be done. This fascinating piece of research suggests that it might be an imperative to eliminate ‘talent hoarding’ - where managers sabotage internal mobility in order to retain high performing team members. Bit technical so scroll to 5.3 for the money shot.
At what point does ‘autonomy’ become ‘abandonment’? The point of this outstanding twitter thread is trying to find this line. More excellent writing on management / HR by non-specialists in the game, there is a pattern here. Have a read.
One of the hard challenges of today’s leaders is managing team mates who have strongly held opinions as those opinions are the ones most often tied to personal identity. What to do when there is a diversity of identities and potentially conflicting ideological commitments in your team? You could ban it, as Coinbase famously did, or you could try some of these techniques in this outstanding post on conflict management.
Great conversation with brainfooders Lars Schmidt and Brendan Browne on Brendan’s personal journey from agent to head of TA to now portfolio support at Y Combinator. Some great advice here folks - have a listen.
Super-connectors are the people in organisations who know what is going on everywhere. They pay no attention to silos, crossing domain boundaries with ease and dexterity. Well-liked and well-informed, they are the people you turn to for help when some intractably wicked problems.
Fascinating concept from network theory, applied to social organisations. It is going to be interesting to see how super connectors will adapt to remote only; theoretically, they exist because of organisational inefficiency, which might be eliminated with a well run remote org…
Trung Phan is on a tear, not only achieving a coveted blue tick on twitter but also the second time in 3 weeks where one of his posts makes it into brainfood 🤣. This one is about former employees - do you have a strategy for cultivating them? You should, because they might be a critical fuel for your rocket ship.
More sports I am afraid, so apologies in advance for anyone who hates it 😀. I had to include this one was it featured Phil Brown local hero to the North East, and, famously, the football manager who once held a half time team talk on national TV in the middle of the pitch whilst the fans all watched. Good management / bad PR? Probably yes is the only possible answer.
Fascinating premise: Star performers are great but they can suppress the performers of team mates if they are always present (i.e. Colin is here and he will take care of it!). Team mates performance increases when the star performer is temporarily taken out of the team - everyone over performs in order to compensate for Colin not being there. Should we not intentionally and irregularly rotate star performers then? Seems like we should.
Does the elevation of writing over speaking as the primary method of business communication reduce the likelihood of bullying? I think…maybe it does, though we can expect new forms of misbehaviour to emerge. This report from Grammarly is a useful document to benchmark how we are changing the way in which we communicate, relevant to the post above, but also valuable as a standalone. H/T to brainfooder Denys Dinkevych for the share.
Brainfooder Dorothy Dalton has a long history of consistently finding novel angles on otherwise mundane HR topics. This challenging post is takes the perspective of those being accused of misbehaviour, and raises a lot of necessary questions on adjudication, due process and the need for neutral reporting. What happens when you become accused of bullying behaviour? Might the accusation itself be a form of bullying? Original post was from 2014 but perhaps more pertinent today than ever before - have a read.
Your job is not to manage people, but to manage processes…
One of the many succinct insights in this outstanding post on how to be a better manager. Written from a practitioners perspective (OP is the CTO at On Deck), this is refreshingly free of HR speak, direct to-the-point in style and, occasionally, genuinely profound. It’s a must read folks.
Pretty much ‘by-the-numbers’ report from LinkedIn Talent Solutions on the relevance of company culture to talent attraction. Stop press: it’s quite important. Still, there are some decent cameo case studies in this, as well some interesting stats collected together from LinkedIn user behaviour. Worth a read.
So here are two people who are going to tell it like it is - brainfooder Max Armbruster, CEO of Talkpush hosting Bob St-Jacques of Big Viking Games. Fun conversation on how to get things done. H/T to brainfooder Bas van de Haterd for the share.
So here’s another look at transparency. Pimlico Plumbers, whose flamboyant boss, Charlie Mullins OBE, decides he’s switching to salary transparency in his company - and doing it on television. Like all great reality TV, it tells a story with underlying questions we have to answer - in this case, would you voluntarily reduce your salary if you knew you are being ‘overpaid’? It might actually be a question some of us one day might have to answer. H/T Giles Symonds for the share in the fb group
So this is taking transparency to the next level. Remote OK’s operating data is fully on display - revenue, cashflow, no of jobs posted (they are a remote engineering job board). Not sure exactly why this is a good thing, but it feels like it is.
Talking about toxic big (ish) brands, Coinbase have proven a dab hand at how to avoid being one - handling a bad PR crisis and in so doing showing us a framework on ‘how to get over it’. No1 factor is of course be massively successful as a business. No2 is showing leadership by articulating your case and staying true to it. No3 is cultural innovation, like this move to give everyone in the company 4 weeks off which can double up as EB or PR depending on how cynical your take might be. They are a fascinating company.
Recently discovered Esther Perel - she has an amazing facility with language, the ability to turn a phrase which so vividly describes how we are feeling. Here she talks about techniques on management ‘ambiguous stress’. It’s really good. She is really good. Have a watch here
Do you do an Annual Review? I don’t, though I probably should. Seems to me like a reasonable exercise to do if you want to consciously work on the things in your life that you want to improve. Also thought this might be a pretty cool team building exercise to do with colleagues. Contains ‘Wheel of Life’ template, a bonus. H/T to brainfooder Deborah Caulet for the share
‘If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.’”
Takes a while to get there, but this interview with Matt Mullenweg, founder of Automattic, the company which makes half the websites on the Internet, is an outstanding insight into a mission led business. If you’re interested in organisational culture and values driven leadership, make time for this great read.
Waitbutwhy - one of the webs most popular blogs- remains unique in how it delivers immensely rewarding life improving content in a humorous and accessible way. So when author / illustrator Tim Urban threads some thoughts on what to think about for 2022, you have got to know I’m going to read it. Profound wisdom through simple drawings. Brilliant stuff, read and follow
Retention might needs its own category as we can expect this to be one of the hard challenges for organisations in 2022. Particularly concerning is the implications of the research here by Qualtrics - it is women leaders who are most likely to leave. Accessible report, recommend you read it.
Well here’s the video of that Zoom call, which an enterprising employee on the other end managed to record; it’s only 3 minutes long and I recommend you watch it (mild profanity warning), and have a think about EB, employee well being and company culture whilst doing so.
Some decent cultural innovation here, with the ‘blameless post mortem’, presumably taking off disciplinary action off the table before conducting a review on why a negative outcome occurred. Would love to know the process of how to do this - anyone know anyone at Twilio who knows, let me know…
Following on from last week’s popular post on ‘what makes a great board’, this week we’re going to post this warning sign on boards in general - they are there to help the shareholders and that may not be you. Particularly pertinent for founders, but a good read for anyone who wants to better understand how incentives drive behaviour.
Fine essay from one of the most insightful commentators on work today, on the essential ‘non-fungibility’ of human beings. Our problem, says Dan Luu, is that we treat humans as if they were interchangeable units….
Talking about meetings, how about an analysis of 1,000 board meetings from the likes of Microsoft, Airbnb, LinkedIn, PayPal, Coda and Zynga, by none other than Reid Hoffman? Must read folks, stuff here applies to any meeting as much as those with the board. H/T to brainfooder Bas van de Haterd for the share.
There is probably a need for a new category of content to focus on ‘Internal mobility’ or ‘Talent marketplace’. Unilever seem to have a mission to be HR innovators so no surprise to see them being the case study again. Worth a look folks, if you have any plan to unlock internal mobility and retain the talent within your business. H/T to brainfooder Bas van de Haterd for the share.
I think fair to say that OP doesn’t like surveillance tech 🤣. Great essay on how to understand company culture based on how it is approaching the return to the office. Some good tips, along with the polemicism. H/T to brainfooder Colin Donnery in the fb group
Hopin is one of the fastest-growing startups in history. The virtual events company had six employees in February 2020, at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. A year and a half later, it employs more than eight hundred and is valued at almost $8 billion.
Crazy growth indeed. What are the recruiting challenges? Azeem Azhar with CEO Johnny Boufarhat for an hour of quality of chat
It’s fascinating to read how people from different organisational cultures think about recruiting. OP is an ex-Singaporean Army Officer, turned startup founder and he expounds on the lessons learned in the military on trust, competence and leadership.
Every organisation has a culture whether it is explicitly discussed or not. How we go about improving it to better help that meet organisational goals might depend on first being able to measure and define it. Our buddies at Bryq have a view on this, and so they have released an accessible e-book discussing key concepts and methods. Free and un-gated - get it here
Intelligent post from brainfooder Joshua A. Luna discussing on the implications of using ‘family’ as the template for social organisation in business. Particularly good in providing a balanced review, as well as recommendations of what how to do it better.
“Lara, I’m a manager, and my team is kind of going in circles. We have a critical project deadline, I’m trying to keep everyone moving forward, but it’s almost like we don’t know who’s in charge of what and it’s slowing us down"
Excellent, practical advice on how to define roles and responsibilities and orientate everybody toward outcomes. Also also: somebody should do recruiting agony aunt version of this blog.
A sketch note summary of Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead best seller. What a perfect way to communicate information in a single page. I pretty sure being able to sketch note artists is a future proof, in-demand skill.
Steph Smith is one of those people I think I am going to say ‘I knew before she was famous’. She is kind of already famous these days, as she is forging a path on content creation / inbound marketing / audience building with a clarity of vision very few can match. Her twitter is a must follow and her projects - such as this awesome ‘User Manual’ - are always worthwhile to explore.
This post is in brainfood because I think we should all do user manuals.
‘Radical candour’ can only exist if those conversations stay within the company. At Netflix, that didn’t happen. Excellent review on the culture challenges currently impacting Netflix following the fall out of the Dave Chappelle controversy. H/T to Bas van de Haterd for the share.
Interesting personal account on exec level burn out, mainly being due to the tension between innovation vs inertia. This is a case study on innovation management but I suspect any role or function where ‘change’ is the mission (i.e DEI) might find similar tensions. No obvious solutions here, but an understanding as to why ‘innovation theatre’ exists might help us eventually come up with one.
Outstanding interactive report on the ‘state of company culture’ by O.C.Tanner. Covers hybrid work, peak experiences and employee experience being contingent on sense of connection. Also brave enough to draw controversial conclusions (i.e employee engagement is an over rated metric). Dive in folks, this is good.
Brian Armstrong, CEO of crypto unicorn Coinbase, took a massive amount of heat last year when he declared his company to be ‘mission focused’ (a.k.a politics free zone) offering pay outs to any of this employees who did not sign up for it. He gives an update, one year after the deed. Have a read
The author just calls this ‘notes on working in a team’ but a normal person would just have a few bullet points on a notion page somewhere, not hand code a beautifully rendered interactive website. Some wise words too on how to be a better team mate. Enjoy
I’ve been tweeting about this post earlier in the week because it is one of the few on the topic of scaling which is brave enough to delineate the stages of hyper scale and actually a put headcount number on each one. File under ‘great, even if you disagree’
Accurate and succinct explainer post on the challenges of working in complex, multi-participant situations. You’ve got get past the idiosyncratic UI, but once you do, you get a short essay with references to the Prisoners Dilemma, Brooks Law and others - as well some practical mitigation strategies you can use to get stuff done.
Politically charged, ethically contentious, practically challenging - how do you decide and how do you successfully implement mandatory employee vaccination policy? Excellent report on how United Airlines have done it, which might be useful might be useful if find yourself in a similar situation. Have a read
Brainfooder Laurie Ruettimann and Dan Schawbel were both some of the earliest HR bloggers who came to my attention a decade or so ago. So fun to hear them come together to discuss collaboration and trust in the workplace. Two great conversationalists, here
Steve Jobs makes another appearance in Tech Emails….seemed to be a common motif amongst the biggest of big tech to informally agree not to hire from each other’s companies. Crazy that the recruiter was sacked for it though…none of this would fly in today’s game.
Some interesting findings: not a huge amount of difference between people who felt time pressured (8.6 hrs) vs those who felt they had good work / life balance (7.6 hrs) suggests it might not take too much for employers to improve employee happiness. Post is sparse but well linked to deeper research pieces, so do check it out.
Does the era of distributed teams place a premium on leadership candidates who come from multi-cultural backgrounds? Their learned ability to switch cultural codes seems to help. Send your kids to that year abroad folks. Have a read
Interesting piece of research, correlating the descriptors of culture with the ratings of culture. 1.4 million Glassdoor reviews, crunched to produce 10 recommendations on what is most important about your culture to employees. Fun study, useful recommendations
If we are indeed about to experience a tidal wave of resignations, then it makes sense to make the best of the off boarding process. Do you even have a process for this? You should according to this podcast, especially if you want to keep your employees networked.
The preview image of this post is the reason why should click on this link - basically summarises the entire article in a single, at-a-glance matrix and provides a framework with which we can develop better strategies for retaining staff. If you’re in a leadership position in your business, you need to read this. H/T to brainfooder Adam Gordon for the share in the fb group
If you wanted one person to summarise Erin Meyer’s classic book The Culture Map, it would be Laetitia Vitaud. It’s all laid out here in one, easy-to-digest post. Must read, especially in these days of globally distributed teams
Companies which went remote only pre-covid are cultural pioneers; the better ones have thought deeply about how and why they do things and their documentation is well worth a read. This guidebook on how to have 1-2-many conversations - as we are all doing on Slack and Teams these days - is an essential read for anyone who wants to be more mindful other their impact on others.
Love it when non-specialists write about recruiting; there is often a clarity, free from the caveats and censoriousness which frequently accompany our words. This tweet thread from Amanda Natividad, Head of Marketing at SparkToro, makes references about becoming a better manager to that person, rather than a validation exercise for gut instinct.
Steve Blank’s refusal to update his 1990’s era website is an admirable commitment to substance over style. His confidence is not often misplaced, with this outstanding post proves. On why heroic individual effort is a sign of systemic failure in organisations, and what culture architects need to do about it.
Retention has been a major focus for TA / HR in 2021 but are we trying to do something we shouldn’t? How about we think about managing attrition and maintaining ‘knowledge flow’ through out teams? Some interesting brainfood here, with this fascinating heterodox argument of keeping things fresh, by letting team mates go.
How many times have you tried giving feedback, and ended up having a damaging conversation instead? We need to get better at this so the structure outlined in this how-to is timeless. H/T to brainfooder Jeroen Kneppersfor the share
Large scale, ‘narrow focus’ reports get a thumbs up from me. This one surveys 58,000 employees from 6 different European countries on what they think of employee benefits. Some easy ways to make yours better - mainly by making them more accessible and understandable to those employees. Also note, the value of ‘company unique’ benefits. Valuable reading - have at it here
We only ever hear about big TA / HR transformation projects when they are at the peak of the hype cycle. And yet the most common end for all such projects is that they get unwound by successors who do not share the original vision. Superb post on a challenging circumstance by brainfooder Allyn Bailey - this is what transparency - and leadership - looks like 👏
A big yay for Anthropologists getting into the world of HR and recruiting. There are going to be some uncomfortable truth telling as academics bring cross cultural awareness into the corporate discourse, but we’re ready for that right?
Another post on pay - do you pay by the hour or by results? Most of us would probably say by results is the better formula, but this article presents a powerful counterargument that we are never going to be able to effectively align the incentives to make it work. Very interesting read - might be a good idea to collect together various compensation models into a single place for us to review.
So Reid Hoffman has a podcast where he interviews other famous tech people. This one is with another Reed (what is with this name, somebody give the me etymology) - Hastings of Netflix. It’s a great interview on culture first. H/T to brainfooder Bas van de Haterd for the share.
Many of us live in cultures where our individuals rights trump obligations to our community. So when those rights (the right of employees to choose to not vaccinate) come into conflict with others (the right of employees to a safe workplace) - we don’t have any good answers. It’s Scylla and Charybdis for employers, who must be looking again - hard - at the viability of full remote…
Learn about building self-managed teams through stories from Riot Games told by Mike Seavers, ex-CTO at Riot and seasoned engineering leader.
Good transcript of a podcast (which you can also listen to on this link) describing the culture of self managed teams at one of leading games studios on the planet. One for the radical cultural experimenters
What is your company policy on vaccinations? As we start to re-use offices for the first time in a long time, how employers handle employees who are not - or refused to be - vaccinated will be a challenge of increasing concern. Useful guidebook from our buddies at Workable.
We all love internal mobility but what happens when your internal candidates are not successful? Turns out they often end up leaving the company entirely. Some interesting data on the post-rejection attrition rate for internal candidates, as well as the impact of the hiring manager interview on those rates.
The story 👉 3 x employees at Netflix were criticising a colleague during a presentation that colleague was giving, on a slack channel they thought was private between them. It wasn’t, they were found out and were fired as a result. Is this management overreach, looking into private conversation of employees, or correct policing of company culture? Also worth noting how the story is reported - first the The Hollywood Reporter and how LinkedIn was used by CEO Ted Sarandos for the rebuttal.
Fascinating research from brainfooder Jan Tegze, who analysed the number of employees at top companies who have indicated they are ‘open for work’ on their Linkedin profiles. Headline figure suggests that 40% attrition can be expected - double the norm. Evidence of the ‘turnover tsunami’? Another interpretation is that these are deferred resignations - effectively 2 years worth of discontent jammed into 1 year. Whichever the case, retention / succession planning have never been more important - needs to be as high a priority now, as much as talent attraction.
The problem with Radical Candour is that it often becomes ‘impression management’
Wonderful turn of phrase in this short essay on one of the key problems of any kind of communication - how much of our intent is accurate conveyance of information vs ulterior acquisition of social capital? Too little of the former, too much of the latter. OP has the antidote: dependable candour
What do you get when you ask 500 HR folks and 2000 employees the same set of questions about how they feel about their work? Some interesting narrative divergence that’s what. Accessible survey by our buddies Personio, free to access here.
Our failure to predict catastrophic outcomes boils down to misunderstanding how systems actually work in the real world. Complexity Science or at least ‘complexity mindset’ is something we all have to get better at, especially when we implement policies which sound like a good idea at local level, only to have countervailing impact at a higher and broader level. This interactive guide as good as I’ve seen for an introduction - comprehensive, accessible and beautifully executed. It has got some cool games too 😊. Worth 10 minutes of your time and must read if we want to get better at making big decisions. Check it out here
Outstanding post on psychological safety using an adaptation of Maslow’s pyramid to illustrate the foundational layers required to create a great team culture. Skip midway straight to do the to-do list, if you’re stuck for time. For software teams, but applicable to any team really, including recruiting ones
Fascinating exchange from what is turning into one of my favourite twitter pages. Internal TechEmails publishes private email exchanges which have now been made public due to Freedom of Information Requests. There’s often a fair bit of recruiting chat there - this one between Facebook vs Google on employee poaching. H/T Simon McSorley in the fb group.
Great writing from brainfooder Neil Morrison. I think we all know what you mean with this experience. We have probably been that person ourselves in some circumstances. The critical task is to know when - and leave.
When we hear about ‘storytelling’ in our business, it is mainly about the use of storytelling techniques to communicate a message to an audience. But sometimes, a straight up story does the job better. Superb fictionalised account of the challenges of building a new department in business. Somebody should do one for TA.
Creating league tables of anything outside of team sports is a pejorative act. But I can’t deny that MIT Sloan’s ‘Culture 500’ comparator is a great implementation of a bad idea. Cool tool to have a play with, and maybe useful as a guideline on how company cultures can be measured.
Outstanding essay on collaboration, feedback, office politics and ‘non-contingent advice’. Again from the world of software development (why does all the best stuff come from there?) but applicable to any field where you need to work with others. Now the question is: are you a hedgehog or are you a fox?
Recruiters are rarely proud of what they do. Most do it solely because the money can be great. It is no surprise that depression among recruiters is common….
Going into the dark with brainfooder Iwan Gulenko, ex-programmer turned tech recruiter, on why the job is (or can be depressing) - and what you can do about it. Excellent reading, and a topic which perhaps is not discussed enough (i.e is it the very nature of the job which makes it so?)
Astonishing essay on the company everyone loves to love - Stripe, the payments behemoth, which ‘thinks like a civilisation’. Long read so if you don’t want to commit to all of it, do at least make sure you read the middle portions on culture, leadership and vision - fascinating insights on how the Collison brothers operate.
Meetings at Amazon famously start with a silent reading of the meeting document. I’m not sure where this idea came from (Bezos himself?) or if any other company does this, but it seems to solve a lot of problems which persistently plague meetings. It’s a fascinating cultural experiment, so have a read of this insiders view of it.
Crowdsourced post of the top tips business leaders in the FirstRound portfolio. As usual, this is meticulous, comprehensive, high value post from one of the best sources of original writing on the modern workplace. Best tip? No11: resist the urge to multi-task. Have a read
Some interesting thinking (as usual) from brainfooder Dr Richard Claydon, who along with JLL, surveyed over 3,000 employees on ‘HPI’, a performance measure based on environment, tooling and culture. There is more to come here, but some useful threads to pull together & apart, especially the concept that already high performing contributors might be the loudest evangelisers for flexible work.
Extraordinary open letter written by former employees of craft beer kings BrewDog, which lays blame for toxic culture squarely at the feet of CEO James Watt. Watt’s reply via twitter again here. Plenty of things to think about here - hyperscale company culture, personality cult of overly prominent CEO’s (hello Elon), elevated risk of reputational damage through the democratisation of media - and nagging sense that BrewDog will survive controversy because it actively courts controversy. Like a few politicians we’ve become familiar with. H/T brainfooder Martin Dangerfield for the share in the fb group
The summer internship is a vital tradition in danger of being lost in the world of remote. 5 mini case studies on how you can make them work in a virtual setting. Key themes? Access to senior management and intern involved in genuinely impactful work.
Not only does this post provide those questions as an easy take-away, but it also context and benchmark scoring on each so you can see where your company is currently placed with regards to employee engagement. High value giveaway content - get it here.
TikTok was the app of 2020 and its pioneering short video montages have become a way of storytelling adopted by even by corporate media. Some surprise then, that ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming announces his resignation last week in this open letter. It’s the view from the top, especially on the tension between innovation vs optimisation. Interesting reading for executive recruiters, business leaders and anyone who thinks they may be a cultural architect.
Superb post by brainfooder Tim Sackett, who consistently introduces thought provoking scenarios which challenge us to come up with better answers. What are the standards of ‘professionalism’, who sets them and why? Great read
The boundary between office vs home has been erased by the pandemic, with huge implications for the function of management. HBR again with an essential read complete with a framework on psychology safety, and - perhaps - a stepping stone toward an entirely new vision of management.
Are we facing a ‘tsunami turnover’? We discussed this in Brainfood Live last Friday and worth a listen again for folks who have this concern. Our buddies at CultureAmp have produced this excellent post highlighting the reasons why people move - 1) Opportunity 2) Expectation and 3) Belonging and what we can do to mitigate against it. Have a read here
Great compliment to the Basecamp post above. Claire Lew is a business leader who manages to marry high level concepts with low level ‘what to do about it’ advice. Runs a different sort of business to Basecamp (aren’t all businesses different?) but her words have wisdom could be widely applied I suspect. Have a read.
Every company has a focus, and for most it’s either sales or product. Here’s why both are the wrong focal points…
What type of business are you really? Understand this before you start codifying your company culture or (gasp) articulating your employer brand. Exceptional post on the orientating principles of your business. Must read
There are many interpretations of what psychological safety means (hint: it does not mean you get to exist in a permanent comfort zone of your own delineation) but few are better than the one proffered in this post:
Psychological safety describes a belief that neither the formal nor informal consequences of interpersonal risks, like asking for help or admitting a failure, will be punitive
Coinbase’s debut on the stock market caused a massive stir this week not least for the amazing story of its founding and its rocketship trajectory over the past 10 years. CEO Brian Armstrong tells the story in this twitter thread.
Lots of things to think about for us; startup culture, work hard as ‘bad’, Armstrong’s first hiring shout out for a co-founder and the declaration last year that Coinbase needed to be a politics free zone in order to deliver against its core mission. All the links above are brainfood, so click on them all.
If you read this newsletter you’d know that some of the most relevant writing comes from outside of HR / TA. Engineering has been consistently one of those disciplines which has written thoughtfully about culture. This post is a great example, defining the differences between ‘robustness’ vs ‘resilience’ and the essential requirement for slack (not Slack) in your operational capacity. Great read of anyone thinking about company culture
The concepts in this post are somewhat more robust than the offered solutions, but it nevertheless takes an interesting angle on collaboration, culture and team building. No one brain is the same, no one person uses theirs the same way. Some decent references too for deeper dive. Have a read here
Brené Brown was perhaps the most admired person cited by members of the Brainfood Tribune. Her knack of distilling complex concepts into an actionable turn of phrase has got to be one of the reasons. How much is too much, when it comes to vulnerability? Brené to the rescue with a workable formula.
It’s a business risk to hire people, and some companies are taking their risk mitigation to the next level - but to what level? IKEA France in trouble and going to trial, accused of spying on job candidates and employees, especially looking for signs of unionism and parallel organisation. Read in conjunction with Jim Stroud’s employee activism post below, to get a flavour of today’s renewed conflict between worker vs owner. Guardian news article here for more depth. H/T to brainfooder Bas van de Haterd for the share
It’s an interesting moment for the workplace culture of Investment Banking. Last month’s call by CEO David Solomon to return to the office was met with predictable criticism for being out of touch with the post pandemic economy, whilst this week, a leaked internal report exposes a work culture of crushing 100+ hour working weeks for junior staff. First things first - credit due to Goldman Sachs for conducting the survey, and making recommendations to readdress. But a moment of reflection for Goldman Sachs and the perhaps the entire work hard / play hard culture of Investment Banking.
Professionals supposedly come in two shapes: either short and fat, or tall and skinny, meaning their skill set is either broad or deep. They can also be T-shaped—knowing a lot about a little and a little about a lot—but in this metaphor, that’s a compromise.
And with that preview, I was in on this post. Clever, accessible model on what type of skills we need in our businesses and what kind of shape(s) we need our employees to be in. Have a read.
Do you have a ‘data driven’ culture? Don’t lie now, I’m sure you’ve said it. Short, perceptive post challenging an idea which has become dogma, with this new angle potentially offering a way out of some of the conundrums we encounter when making ‘data driven’ decisions. Must read
An intriguing question which reveals a unique and thoughtful post on team dynamics. Some new terms for us learn here (are you subtractive or additive to the work to the work that needs to be done?), as well as perhaps a new way to look at team management. Must read for any team leader / manager
I’ve been following brainfooder Jessica Hayes close to real time documentary on her building of a global comp plan at Whereby (better than Zoom) and it’s proved to be an insightful walkthrough of one of the biggest challenges in the remote first world. Parts I &II can be found in the brainfood larder, this is Part III
What is your company policy on vaccinations / masking? Sadly controversial in many jurisdictions, employers who are returning to the office face the Scylla and Charibdys of discrimination vs duty of care to employee health. The UK Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has a comprehensive FAQ’s section on this issue. Obviously relevant to UK employers but non-UK employers might draw some inspiration from the answers found here. H/T to brainfooder Colin McNicol for the share in the fb group
‘Context Collapse’ as the critical concept driving employee demands on the employer. Outstanding report from MIT Sloan on impact of Covid-19, the arrival of Gen Z to the workforce and the shift to remote. H/T to brainfooder Jacob Sten Madsen for the share in the fb group.
How do you get your employees to advocate for your company? Smart alec might say ‘be so great that they will do it without asking’ but that is usually unhelpful. Up steps brainfooder Alex Her with a some practical steps to incentivise your workforce. Worth sitting on this a little bit - maybe a good topic for a brainfood live at some point
Creating a competitive, yet equitable compensation programme is one of the immediate challenges of the hire-from-anywhere, remote first world. Do you pay based on value of role or cost of living for the worker? What happens if an employee moves? Promising start to a series by brainfooder Jessica Hayes, who, as ever, comes at the challenge from non-conventional angles. Have a read
Couple of strands in this post from our buddies at Zinc that are worth thinking about, especially on the use of scenario questions to help crystallise your company values. What-would-you-do-if-X formulations - is this a technique which is widely used? Be interested in if so, and if not, what other techniques you do use to help define company culture. Delighted to collaborate on this post, so have a read here
Given the dominance of Microsoft in enterprise, moves like Microsoft Vivaare inevitably market making. As the ad revenue business model of internet gets a hammering, it is worth speculating what an alternative timeline of Microsoft dominated web might’ve looked like. Paying for Internet explorer, cost-per-usage on search, annual subscription fees for access to a locked in eco-system. That world might come again, and it’s tough to think of a better positioned company that Microsoft to own it.
Brilliant tweet thread, listing the most important lessons OP has learned from Jeff Bezos, who stepped down as Amazon CEO in stunning fashion last week. Productivity, innovation and performance gold right here.
For the official rationalie, here is Bezos email to Amazonians making the announcement. Looks like its a focus on making humanity an interplanetary species.
I’m going to leave the last word to former Amazon employee Steve Yegge who, nearly 10 years ago, penned one of the all time great company culture posts, comparing the cultures of Amazon vs Google. You won’t read a better breakdown of what makes Bezos and Amazon different to the rest - and its a counter intuitive eulogy to micro-management. Read it all here
Great case study of adapting storytelling techniques taken from external marketing to culture building via internal communications. As the subject likes to say….you sometimes have to zoom right out to see what you really need to do. Must read folks.
Superb long read about organisational dysfunction, accelerated by broken promises, unequal treatment, a lack of transparency on process, a lack of definition on role and - perhaps - the role of prayer in candidate selection. It’s the story of the Houston Texans, who stand to end their catastrophic 2020 season by losing their star quarterback - and probably a great deal of the fan base.
Quick answer? Create a RFC - Request For Comments document where both the proposition and the comments are publicly shared. We get emotionally invested in our ideas and become motivated reasoners seeking to ‘win’ the argument without really understanding why that is important. The RFC forces you to justify your point, in writing and publicly. We really should do this more - have a read.
Are you part of a ‘values’ driven company culture? Of course you are, we have all drank the Kool Aid on this, so a cautionary tale might just be what the real doctors might order; thought provoking article on Rebekah Neumann’s influence on the direction of WeWork, undoubtedly a culture driven business….
In any other week, this post would be the first one I’d want you to read. Fascinating expose from Sahill Lavingia, founder of Gumroad, on the unique influence his product offering has on the culture of business that has emerged to deliver it. It’s really the flattening and diffusion of company structure - a fascinating experiment in on a future model of organising work. H/T Mitasha Singh for the share in the fb group
Your employees don’t have to be taking part in a failed putsch for the events in Capitol Hill this week to have repercussions in your business. We might actually be thankful that remote working for the moment removes us from the immediate prospect of physical proximity with colleagues with whom you may be ideologically far from proximate. Respect to TLNT for suspending normal programming this week to dedicate their issue on 21 examples of what HR / TA leaders can do in politically divisive circumstances.
It is impossible to keep politics out of the workplace. Increased political activism + democratisation of media provided by big tech means that it may well be your business inadvertently on TV in the middle of an insurrection against government. What do you do if you’re Navistar Direct Marketing and one of your employees appears on national TV wearing his branded lanyard as he ransacks Capitol Hill? At will contracts make it easier, but as this article from Inc suggests, check local employment laws first before you do anything.
This might be the post which brought Charthop first to my attention - a superb add value piece which manages to also be legit brainfood - the ideal combo of practical how-to allied to high level concepts.
FirstRound routinely produce some of the best content relevant to the brainfood community - sourced from an unparalleled network of founders and C-suite leaders in the startup / scale up space. This post on ‘how to manage up’ is a must read for anyone that has a boss and wants a better relationship with that boss.
Fascinating story about a business culture focuses on continuation of service rather than profit maximisation. As we look toward a post pandemic future, with new values about the social enterprise, perhaps we might draw inspiration from the ’shinise’ businesses of Japan. H/T to brainfooder Kimberly Groat for the share
‘The first step is to measure whatever can be easily measured. The second step is to disregard that which can’t be easily measured … The third step is to presume that what can’t be measured easily really isn’t important … The fourth step is to say that what can’t be easily measured really doesn’t exist.’
I’m liking the commentary coming from startup founders on company culture. It’s often raw and unfiltered (see last week’s post from Alexandr Wang), but equally often contains insight missing from observations written by specialist recruiters. This post - on company culture being emergent rather than designed - is the start of a convincing argument. Have a read
Culture fit vs Culture add? Let’s talk about this in a Brainfood Live as this is a characterisation which deserves a deeper dive. Some advocacy for the former in this high value post from Charthop, which manages to pack in some mini case studies showing how companies have diversified their talent pool. Have a read
Sad news to start this week’s brainfood. Former Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh was ‘doing’ company culture before it was cool, and whatever we might now think about holocracy, the sight of a prominent tech entrepreneur persistently leading with company culture when talking about his business helped move the idea from the periphery to the centre of the work we now do. Some first hand testimony of Hsieh’s impact here, his connection of company and community here and his advocacy of happiness and mental health here - again, way before it was cool. RIP Tony Hsieh, who has passed away last week, age 46.
Never thought I’d share Immanuel Kant in recruiting brainfood (got an ‘F’ in Moral Philosophy…), but here I am, shouting out Mr Categorical Imperative himself. This post explains the difference between values-as-PR vs values as the ethical operating system of your business. It really is a superb piece of writing, unlike anything Mr Kant ever wrote….
Interesting retrospective from software engineer Daniel Na, who moved into a management role and realised some important lessons, all of which are portable to our world in recruiting and HR. In the end, it’s a load of trade offs. Also: worth reading this as an on-premise account of how management works. Management in a remote first world is going to be entirely different and likely would need another retrospective…
Real-time chat apps like Slack are taking the business world by storm. But does faster communication really mean better communication?
Interesting question posed by the team behind productivity app, todoist. Argument includes concepts such as ‘simulated transparency’ and the problem of 'real time, all the time’. Its a really good post on how and when to communicate with team members - essential reading for anyone managing a remote working team
An amazing report on Bytedance, the company which built the app-of-the-moment, TikTok. Rarely do you get this level of insight, and almost never presented in such digestible form. Tons on organisational design, information flows, division of responsibility. Have a read here
The clarity of thinking of this blog is what makes it remarkable - intelligent, high value content the reader can consume in under a minute. Not saying this writer is Hemingway, but s/he …is kind of like Hemingway. Anyway, this on consistently high performing teams, is great.
Is the recruiter-to-employee ratio a reasonable signal for how much a company cares about people and culture? Interesting conjecture from brainfooder Lucas Tang in this post, which makes the case, that it does. Have a read
How does your company culture compare? There is of course, inherent problems with competitively ranking cultures in this way (imagine doing this with national cultures…), but still, this is an undoubtedly a pretty cool tool to play with. Here are the values: agility, collaboration, customer orientation, diversity, execution, innovation, integrity, performance, and respect - data, from Glassdoor reviews.
Well this is a challenging read - can you be too empathetic a manager? Understanding how a team member feels is important but perhaps also dangerous if it clouds your judgement as a team lead. Interesting perspective from Dave Bailey - have a read, here
Great case study on Internal Mobility, pretty much outlining the radical steps you have to take to unlock it in your business. Key factors? Open internal job market + tech matching service, to take away the implication of candidate application….. Well worth a read
What happens if you apply an accountancy framework to HR? If you thought ‘a misshapen monstrosity to be immediately consigned the flames’ then shame on you, because this fusion of disciplines is actually pretty damn good.
Superb post from Firstround on how to hold a virtual offsite. Usually an in-person event, most of us will be doing this for the first time, so this is the ideal primer - if not complete template - on how to do it. H/T to brainfooder Adriaan Kolff for the share in the fb group
Stay Saasy is fast becoming one of my favourite blogs; it’s basically a series of non obvious truths, succinctly delivered in posts of 500 words or less. Join the club if you find yourself nodding along to this one….
Where are you currently in your career? Relevant post for anyone at any stage I would say, but particularly if you are currently mid point, or at point of inflection. Have a read here. Oscar Mager in the fb group
Insightful twitter thread on the 360 feedback review - why they can be useful and also why they usually are not. Some excellent thinking here, especially touching on the inevitable power dynamic between the stakeholders of the review process. Have a read here.
Fascinating textual analysis of the formal culture statements from 700+ companies. Turns out, there as many 62 different values with none even coming close to being universal. Lots of things to think about in this post - rhetoric vs reality, the ritual of culture statements, the number of values you can optimally commit to…..all signs of great brainfood.
Interesting framework to analyse business culture, focusing on the rhythm of the two sets of business departments which have the greatest functional proximity: sales + finance vs product + marketing. Of course, TA / HR is completely absent from the conversation, but rather than complain, we should probably ask why? Perhaps failure to understand ‘the cadence’ might be a factor. Have a read here
bullsh1tting is a social practice that organizational members engage with to become part of a speech community, to get things done in that community, and to reinforce their identity. When the practice of bullsh1tting works, it can gradually expand from a small group to take over an entire organization and industry. When bullsh1tting backfires, previously sacred concepts can become seen as empty and misleading talk…
..and with that, I was hooked on this accessible piece of research on how BS can take over company communications. One for the culture builders (and strategic bullsh1tters)
Incredibly rewarding post on intrinsic motivation, introducing interesting concepts such as ‘Employee Value Apex’ and the 'Dead Sea Effect’. It’s about developers, so hyper relevant to tech recruiters / managers of tech employees, but really could be applied to any discipline, including ours, so relevant enough for everybody.
Brainfooder Robin Schooling is one of those commentators who always finds a unique angle to explain the unexplainable. Funny, erudite and maybe a little bit of a sad take on a company function wracked with self doubt. Must read folks.
The inevitable dark side of People Analytics is performance tracking, especially by bosses who don’t trust their workforce. Interesting to see how an ecosystem of tech vendors has quickly evolved to fill this niche. Have a read, here (PS: love to hear from you if you work for a business which has tech like this - get in touch)
Trick question as the answer isn’t the number but a lead into an excellent post about creating jobs which foster growth and development. Engineering focused but the advice translates to any discipline. H/T to brainfooder Denys Dinkevych for the share.
Simple, excellent advice from a manager who understood and learned from his error. If your task as a manager or team leader is to motivate your team members, de-motivating them by task based feedback is one of the worst things you can do.
Top tip: put your framework into a pyramid diagram. This is what Iulian Gulea has done with this excellent post and he ends up with a great explainer of how to up-skill and become a master of your craft. Of interest to anyone who into personal development, L&D or building a learning culture.
Important contribution to a challenging debate by brainfooder Jim Stroud. What is the role of HR on social & political issues - to referee or be a player in the game? There are variety of angles to this debate so please avail yourself to to them. If you are interested in debating this topic, please join Jim and I on Brainfood Live Ep66 - register here
Are you any good at giving constructive criticism? I’m not, so I found this post remarkably useful as it is packed with theory supported by practical example. Loads of acronyms too, so that’s a bonus. Have a read here
I just witnessed the lynching of a black man, but don’t worry Ted, I’ll have those deliverables to you end of day.
How do you manage staff performance during a crisis? Its a question which has been asked by our community members before, but sometimes we cannot - perhaps should not - ask our employees to compartmentalise. Essential essay - have a read
Some acronyms to learn: CAI (Culture As Imagined) vs CAP (Culture As Practiced), and the distance between the two being CCG (Corporate Culture Gap). Beginnings of a framework here in this thought provoking post on employers walking the talk. H/T brainfooders Pedro Oliveira & Catia Sousa for the share
Fabulous essay on the inherent dangers of giving and taking advice. We can’t shake our biography folks and always generalise from an example of one. Includes quotes from Moltke and van Clausewitz, which additionally makes this a must read.
Interesting angle on the challenges of transitioning back to co-located work after lockdown. If you have a facilities or office manager, send this link to them. If you don’t, you got to read this yourself. H/T brainfooder Pedro Oliveira for the share in the fb group
New language, new framework and a new tool to help you calculate a role’s ‘span of control’. Outstanding brainfood for anyone interested in role design, organisational structure and workplace culture. H/T brainfooder Mark Rogers for the share.
Unusually practical post from HBR, with some excellent do-it-today tactics on hiring during a downturn. Also includes evidence that the strongest companies to emerge from recessions are those which manage to resist thinking in the binary states of ‘grow vs cut’. Useful ammo for us in HR / TA, for conversations at the top.
If war and peace are fundamentally different states - then we need fundamentally different modes of operating to succeed in them. Line-by-line comparison in this thought provoking post on how to organise for either circumstance, though tellingly it doesn’t deal with how you are meant to switch between the two…..
Outstanding multi-threaded essay on the most famous strategy consultancy on the planet. Learn about operating model of consultancies, the importance of inductive reasoning and role of consultants in shaping, influencing and exploiting corporate culture. It’s a great read
Remarkable start of a what looks to be a hugely promising series by brainfooder Damon Klotz. On wellness, motivation and how to handle a crisis. Good on so many levels - depth of content, variety of format, the user journey on consumption….must read folks.
‘Prof. Kreck, I really would love to understand the proof of the Poincaré conjecture. Do you have any tips for me?’ He looked at me calmly and replied something like ‘Not really, but best of luck to you; maybe you can it explain it to me once you understand it.’
Dan Luu is some sort of perverse genius. Consistently brilliant analysis, expertly communicated in a way that is accessible to the laity, credible to the clergy, all served up on a website with an uncompromising UI from the late 90’s. On systems, complexity and the necessity of ‘bloat’ .
Millions of data points on employee engagement, aggregated into a single web app. Some fantastic benchmarking value here, and potentially a whole lot more. Take a deep dive in folks. H/T brainfooder Damon Klotz for the share
Never thought there’d be so much anthropology in recruitment. Culture divides as much as it unites. Or you can try to create a ‘cult’. But that usually requires dogma, a clerical class ('cultural guardians’..) to police it and a system of reward and punishment for exemplars and transgressors.
Lots of things to think about in this unfiltered post by Jan Wedel - not least the preconceptions carried into the project by himself. However, perspectives like this offer insight into the world of distributed, remote teams which we might all need to get used to. More on the Hacker News comment thread here.
Encouraging to see engineering / product ideas filter into the recruiting world. This is a transcript of an interview with Dan Pupius, ex Head of Engineering at Medium where he built a hiring framework like he would a product. Best part? You have to build the system as well as the results. Likely the best thing you’ll read today.
We know meetings are the bane of office life, but do we really know why? It could be because you’re suffocating. Alarming and amusing in equal measure, put this post amongst the growing list which questions the value of the meeting.
Are you doing a survey? From the amount of polling going round in the fb group, I’d be surprised if you weren’t. We should all read this outstanding post from our buddies at HubSpot. Beautifully presented interactive website packed with insight, education and - most importantly - practical tips. Must read
Does the martini cocktail glass describe your career? Khe Hy thinks it might, in this interesting take on career trajectory. Might be useful, especially if you’re managing or recruiting others. And if not - hey, at least it’s a martini glass.
Succinct and accessible summary of key HR models popular in business today. At the very least it’s a decent history of the concepts that have driven the discipline. H/T to Erik van Vulpen for putting this high value post together. HR folks should take a look.
Do you know what ‘design thinking’ is? I suspect most of us heard of it, but fewer really grok it. I don’t pretend to be one of them, so found this white paper from Leiner & Partner useful. Download and have a read here.
’Employee manuals’ are self written guide books that you make publicly available so that others can get the best out of you. GitLab - fast becoming a poster child for organisational innovation - is leading from the front, with CEO Sid Sijbrandij publishing his own.
$5,000 and you can leave - counter intuitive nudging from the company which may know it’s workers better than any other. Fascinating post on how this strategy may actually be a way to keep staff for longer.
Superb analysis of the hiring drought at CTO level by my buddy and long time brainfooder, Dmitri Grabov. Compensation disparity, set in part by internal politics in permanent hires plus lack of commitment in developing younger talent, creates the drought.
Jeff Bezos famously has the ’two pizza rule’ where no meeting should ever be large enough that 2 pizza’s can’t feed the entire room. Laurence Krubner goes further - anything beyond a one to one is a complete waste of time. He makes a persuasive argument in this excoriating post.
For years, managers have been encouraged to praise and constructively criticize just about everything their employees do. But there are better ways to help employees thrive and excel. Excellent post by HBR - do give this a read
Interesting theory on how tools and frameworks can change culture. The rise of micro services has triggered a revolution in who-does-what in software development, consequently changing what the optimal characteristics (i.e candidates) are for the current and future software dev team. Have a read here
Fascinating essay on how Google’s nudge culture infuses every part of its operations, including how it provisions food for its employees. So much to think about here; change management tactics, corporate social responsibility, company over reach….Long, enriching read. H/T brainfooder Chris Platts for the share
“…Open sourcing your code, regardless of your company size, is one of the best ways to recruit top engineers…”. This is from AngelList, who analysed the application rate of companies who do vs don’t. Food for thought here for those hiring for tech
Deconstructing the theories of truth, learning and excellence, this superb essay from Harvard Business Review might be the much need antidote to the ‘radical candour’ movement. Not only intellectually stimulating, it also contains practical how-to’s to move idea to action. Must read
Proponents tout the benefits of sharing pay information across an organisation. But it seems that for many companies, the costs outweigh the benefits. Counter point to the Buffer philosophy from Wall Street Journal, is well worth a read, especially on the unexpected consequences of well meaning culture change.
FirstRound continue to produce the best content in the industry. Most are interviews with amazing figures who have something unique to say. Here we have Kenneth Lin, CEO of Credit Karma, doing branding by not caring about branding too much. It’s a great interview, profound and pragmatic. Must read
“Top executives can unleash agile teams by driving ambition, removing red tape, and helping managers adjust to new norms”. It’s really just the Prussian mission command model - centralised intent, decentralised execution - but it’s all the rage in HR these days, so you better have a read here.
The well being and mental health of our employees is belatedly becoming a priority in business. Brainfooder Yulia Bondar describes perhaps the unique reasons why this is particular challenge for recruiters in this outstanding confessional post. Have a read here
“Even though you’re surrounded by people, and you’re talking all day long, being CPO is often said to be the loneliest role outside of the CEO role, because you don’t have somebody to confide in necessarily for everything,”
It’s a thankless task being a Chief People Officer, one of the most coveted roles in our industry and yet, maybe an impossible one to do well. Excellent and accessible post on the life at the top.
The total absence of HR oversight in the White House perhaps demonstrates the place of the function in society. It’s strictly optional and depends on CEO buy in. This is already old news but points remain pertinent.
How do you hire exceptional employees? You probably don’t pipe them into a recruiting funnel designed for volume hiring is my best guess. I spoke with brainfood buddies Workable last week on how the highly skilled, in-demand might be the modern artisans of the digital era. Great job by Nikoletta Bika for making my words readable - check it out here.
PS: The inspiration for this post was a 15 minute talk I gave on the topic of artisanal working at RecFest AU earlier this year. Published last week, you can watch it here
Recruiting Toolbox is a recruitment consultancy in the real sense of the term - they don’t recruit, but help companies recruit better. Some evidence of their philosophy in this excellent post on how to manage your hiring managers - a crucially under estimated part of recruiting success.
Well done to the Association of Talent Acquisition Professionals (ATAP), for producing the first voluntary code of ethics for their membership. To be a recruiter is to be in a position of power - its long overdue to see these commitments codified and published. Expect other associations to follow suit.
Consistently thought of as amongst the most attractive employers on the planet, this outstanding long read from Wired paints a very different picture as internal culture wars take such a grip at Google that CEO Sundar Pichai was forced to issue a missive for employees to cease discussing politics on internal channels.
Significant piece of research from our buddies at Slack and GlobalWebIndex. What are the differences between your Aligned vs Non-aligned workers? Could be a key measurement of your organisational health. Download the PDF here
PS: hi to all our new subscribers from Slack TA team this past week - great to have you all onboard ;-)
Turns out, innovation is a numbers game. Great article from the Harvard Business Review, introducing ‘ideation rate’ as the key metric to a successful culture of innovation. H/T to brainfooder John Sumser for the share
Succinct overview of the ’state of agile in HR’ by Steve Denning. HR is mainly doing ‘agile-lite’ - adopting the accoutrements of agile, but not really grokking it. Great reading for everyone implementing agile. The Agile manifesto btw, is still up there and is still available for all as the guiding north star in case we get lost on the way
Are you WEIRD? If you’re reading this newsletter, there’s a good chance that you are. It has huge implications in how we might be assessing behaviour when we hire and how we manage performance after we do.
How important is mental health? Critically important in of itself, but increasingly we are becoming aware of it’s correlation to poor productivity. Kristian Bright writes from a perspective of a recruiter who knows overwork and managed to pull it back. NB: If you have £10 spare, you can help Kristian reach his charity target by donating to mental health charity Mind, here
This is where McKinsey & Co really excel - outstanding how-to post on leadership during a crisis. Main point: recognise it is a crisis but communicate with ‘deliberate calm’ and 'bounded optimism’. Bang on every point, so must read.
Developers….can be the worst. If you’ve ever worked in /with a dev team, you know that it can be a brutal place. Philipp Ranzhin explains how he was one of the folks who made it this way, and why he was wrong. It’s a brilliantly written piece, giving an inside look at the world of code reviews, hierarchy and ’previous idiot syndrome’.
Are we wasting our time with employee engagement initiatives? Fascinating brainfood from Harvard Business Review, which presents an obvious-now-you-think-about-it argument: that employees might not be ‘disengaged’, they may just have low wattage personalities.
What is Recruitment Operations? Inspired from the development of DevOps in software engineering, this is an emerging function within a mature TA team which focuses not on headcount but optimising processes. Great read by our buddies at Zinc.
Working for a year at a mechanic shop taught me that, in order to have a flourishing business and team, more than just formal process matters.
That was enough to have me hooked on this post by Majorie Knepp. Makes me think what other lessons are available for us to learn if we could better connect industries and share experience. Easy, fun, valuable read
The story of Value’s “flat, bossless, open office” utopia is now an infamous retelling of Golding’s Lord of the Flies in a modern tech business setting. This post by Ong Kar Jin is a warning of something we should know already - all utopia is propaganda
Too much of recruiting is rhetoric says long time brainfooder Stevie Buckley, in another excellent post on how we can differentiate and still do good work. Can ethics be a recruitment marketing asset? Of course it can, but only if it’s honest.
Real talk on culture change by Barclay’s Ian Miell. Direct, to-the-point, pragmatic - this is the way to write a method post. Main takeaway? Make team members do all the jobs so that they each have a perspective on what everyone’s role really is.
Highly promising blog / report series on employee sentiment by Dropbox. Two main takeaways for me - we want to slow down and we want less interruptions. Can also be read as a great example of inbound marketing strategy - serialisation vs mega report. Have a read here
In recruitment, we are prone to survivor bias, but sometimes we need to let go of the skepticism and simply absorb great lessons where we find them. Lenny Rachitsky pens a powerful retrospective on the lessons he’s learned as an early employee of a unicorn. It’s a great read.
Still after ‘A’ Players? You better make sure they are not rogue. These are the mavericks for whom there is only one source of truth and no one who isn’t them is going to get it. Great post by Keir Lowden, on the dangers of ignoring culture fit
Transcript of an interview between Bryan Helmig, CTO and Co-founder of Zapier, who has been working with a 100% remote development team since the very beginning of company’s growth and with fellow YC alum Yurij Riphyak of Youteam. Real talk between two founders who believe in remote first.
There is truth in cliché. National management stereotypes and how to adapt to them. This report from Harvard Business Review can be read on many levels - as a practical how-to, an appeal for better cross cultural communication and perhaps, as a deterrent to diversity?
No bullshit (as ever) from my friend Laurie Ruettimann on workplace culture. Love this post on walking the talk when it comes to cultivating a positive company culture. It’s do-it-tomorrow advice folks, so get a load of it here
“Over the course of our careers, Jen and I observed situations where women and underrepresented groups were often excluded from key emails or meetings,” Korey said in a statement to The Verge. “Slack affords levels of inclusion and transparency email simply doesn’t.
You’ve got be wary of stories like this, especially as it’s told from one side only, but it’s undeniably a fascinating account of radical transparency culture gone bad.
So I think this is relevant to recruiting. Moran Cerf, a neuroscientist, says the surest way to maximize happiness has nothing to do with experiences, material goods, or personal philosophy - but who you hang around with.
Names are metaphors and, you know what? Metaphors matter. This is an excellent post from Ben Halstead who warns us to be careful when we decide what to call the work we do. A must read for anyone hiring developers / engineers
“….The virtual Museum of HR has a big room full with Employee Journey Maps…” Tom Haak with a wonderful line to start his exhibition of the ways in which we describe the employee journey. The design makes a difference. Have a look here and see for yourself.
One of those posts which is so good that you wish it was longer. The ‘three distances’ (physical, operational, affinity) is a great concept to use in management of remote work. As more of end up doing it, new skills of communication are required. Must read
There’s going to be some meetings content coming up these next few issues, because if we’re going to have them, then we might as well do them well. This collection is practical, searchable, useful - tech focused but relevant to any industry, including ours.
So here are the four main differences between organisations who successfully staff their digital initiatives: 1. Look potential rather credentials 2. Software skills rather than hard skills 3. Think team rather than individual hiring and 4. Align incentives to encourage existing employees to upskill. Recruiters pretty much need to circulate this report to your hiring managers
Fascinating premise by brainfooder Bas van der Haterd on the efficacy of 4 day week’s on employee productivity and performance. Might the performance improvement occur because 4 day week are unusual and not universal? In line with the concept of relative vs absolute poverty. Worth thinking about this, especially when adopting the latest trends….
Heresy.io is coming out with some great content pieces lately. In line with the ‘Agile-in-Recruiting’ conversations that have been going round, this post gives us great pointers on how to run effective stand ups.
Haters are going to hate, but credit goes to Amazon for always trying new things. We know that going back to nature leads to increase in health and productivity so is the ‘rain forest office’ the ultimate employee perk?
Who you should hire depends on the maturation of your business says Lew Moorman, founder of Scaleworks. It is a convincing critique of ‘credentialism’ and the worship of big brands in recruiting. H/T for brainfooder Billy McDairmid for the share.
Are you conspicuously better than your colleagues? I know I am, which I why I make sure I never have many. JK. This is a management problem that falls squarely onto lap of HR - how to deal with jealousy in the workplace.
Fascinating study tackling the apparent paradox of our aversion to meetings, yet their seemingly inexorable increase in frequency. It represents changes in the workforce, especially in the growth of ‘thinking vs doing’ roles. Also: this post introduces the concept of underlying social purpose that is the real reason for many of the things we do in business. It’s more anthropology and it’s a great read
Why didn’t governments come up with Google or Facebook or Amazon? Especially when many startups in the early era of the Silicon Valley actually emerged from government. Steve Blank with a fascinating essay on culture comparison.
‘Something we could do better at is making it really possible and a really great experience for people to leave’.
Clickbait title and cut down interview(s) present Monzo in a less than flattering light here, but there are two valid points made in this post. Fast growing companies can outgrow early employees, and an effective way to manage changing relationships is surely just mature management.
With data, you can measure and improve performance, but that won’t facilitate breakthroughs. Leadership is the art of doing things you’re not sure of, and doing them with enrollment instead of authority.
A/B is cool but its not the way to make transformational breakthroughs, says Seth Godin. He’s as relevant as ever.
Does it matter if your CEO is a billionaire? Once we get over the obvious question on the direction of causality, we can start to see some fascinating insights in this report from UBS on ‘billionaire managed businesses’. Interesting premise, cool website so download the full report here
You know from the first line that this is great writing. Learn about ‘levelling’, 'red zones’ and 'moving out to moving up’ by tech insider Rachel Kroll, who - when she is not writing great posts like this - is a senior engineer at Facebook. Must read for those interested in tech culture / tech hiring.
Social norms can be changed by only a quarter of the group, ‘for good or ill’ as this post from Coglode helpfully notes. That’s all it takes for a dedicated minority to shift the 'Overton’ window. Perhaps we can apply the maths to more benign purpose, in the context of our companies. Must read for anyone currently embarking on or wrestling with culture change.
How much of your day is spent multitasking with communication tools? And just how bad is it for your productivity? We know the answers: ‘way too much’ and 'absolutely terrible’. This post might give us a way out - have a read here
Getting into Instagram recently - mainly because it’s a business knocking on the door of close to 1 Billion users - and I thought I’d better. Here’s a great interview transcript with James Everingham, formerly Head of Engineering at Instagram, on how to make better decisions in transparency & communication. As with everything on FirstRound Review, it’s excellent for recruiters / HR / talent folks of all stripes.
The secret to employee engagement? Give them an actual stake in the business and involved them in the decisions that affect the business. Fascinating cameo portrait of Danone - decent case study in case anyone wants to quickly and radically trigger culture change.
There are surprisingly few formal studies on office romance…
…and as 40% of conjugal partners meet at work, office romance must rank as a seriously under researched topic in the world of recruiting and HR. A light hearted but well researched piece from our buddies at Good&Co on a phenomena we need to talk more about. Have a read here.
progression.monzo.com is a single place where all our current and future employees can see the skills, knowledge and behaviours that we value here at Monzo.
Impressive transparency from Monzo on their progression framework, a tool to match employee competence to compensation. It’s a fantastic template and an even better example. H/T to ‘foodie Katrina Pascoulis for the share
“they’re just shapes’ says Richard Bartlett in this insightful post on what we should really be focusing on when we want to create effective modern organisations. Some ONA in this, because in the end, it’s all about power dynamics.
More on Holocracy. Great to see some companies press ahead with experimentation in radical organisation change. Decent overview from Molly Levinson of the story at Blinkist. Thanks OH subscriber Deborah Caulet for the share.
Startups default to the radical. There’s perhaps been no greater attempt at changing organisational culture than Zappo’s attempt at radical de-centralisation. Here’s a perspective behind Holacracy, warts and all.
We’ve heard of the relocation package. But what about the de-location package? Zapier in the news this week, for their ‘pay you to get out of town’ deal for new employees. An interesting idea to save costs / increase talent pool. Here’s their original blog post.
Superb post from brainfooder Adriaan Kolff - a worthy story made more so by the willingness to share it. We learn more from the failures than we do from the successes folks. Must read for any manager thinking about doing an offsite.
Hard truths and great tips from Blinkist Director of Design Temi Adeniyi on scaling up her design team. Especially like #3 - ‘implicit knowledge of old heads is hidden information for newbies’. H/T brainfooder Deborah Caulet for the share. Have a read here
How much of the work you do is about the work you do? An interesting concept introduced by Asana in this report on knowledge workers task distribution, and how communication / collaboration tech have led to a barrage of interrupts which prevent the deep work we need to do. Thankfully, there’s a couple of pages at the end on what to do about it. H/T to brainfooder Denis Dinkevich for the share
Superb resource from Atlassian - an interactive website packed full of ideas and how-to’s, categorised according the the culture challenges you currently face. It’s a marvellous contribution to community. One to bookmark for anyone interested in growing a healthy company culture.
We are getting better at thinking about culture. Dr Richard Claydon has been one of my favourite follows on LinkedIn this year, primarily because of content like this. 2017 has seen ‘culture’ mature from being a slogans on the office wall to behaviours that get rewarded and punished according the values of the business.
Firstround is hands down the best original content blog on matters of recruiting and talent. Written in the format of “overheard in..”, is post is packed full of innovative ideas which can be immediately implemented by recruiters / hiring managers to get better tomorrow. It’s a fantastic read.
Employee activism is an increasingly significant phenomenon, whether it be for social justice agenda, or plain old material self interest. Great example of the maybe both here, with MS employees crowdsourcing an anonymous pay spreadsheet in order to figure out how much the other guy is being paid. Maybe time to do one for Brainfooders - thoughts in replies to this email…
Some sound anthropology here, written with a literary flair you might expect from the Economist’s Ryan Avent. Summary: the reason why we do work so hard is because personal / professional lives are so intertwined that our social capital is now heavily invested in the realm of work.
Blindly worshiping at the altar of best practices is dangerous, say recruitingbrainfood subscriber Matt Bradburn. He’s almost certainly right but options are most limited to those who don’t know enough to know.
The best content will be both a revelation and common sense. I think this post from Carly Guthrie, HR Lead for Per Se, achieves it. Thanks to OH subscriber Matthew Bradburn for the share. (Firstround is an excellent blog btw, consistently excellent original content)
First rule of managing conflict? You have to agree on a way to disagree. Excellent new writing Kate Leto, guest blogging on our buddies Mind The Product platform. Not strictly recruiting related, but problem / solution set are universal. H/T brainfooder James Mayes for the share.
Somewhat of a ‘stream of consciousness’ summary of the inside look of some major tech companies. Not easy to read to but some interesting nuggets here, especially on Google’s approach to recruiting / management.
We’re complicit in this - we’ve all been shilling for the system for as long as we can remember. We’re still doing it, i.e ‘get into STEM everybody!’ There’s no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow folks. Just more grind.
Unfiltered truth from Workable’s CEO Nikos Moraitakis on some of the biggest myths and misconceptions in the recruiting software industry. ‘Effort bias’ in particular is a term we should know. #nikosrants should be a thing. Must read folks.
Fascinating long read on WeWork founder Adam Neumann and his journey from selling baby clothes to transforming the modern commercial real estate business. It’s all there - crazy big vision, crazy big hair, all-in-culture, massive scale, turnover-as-strategy and the rest. It’s a fascinating read on a convention busting organisation.
Business Model Canvass revolutionised the presentation of operating frameworks. This effort from XPLANE uses the same ‘one-pager’ ethos to create and update their 'Empathy Map Canvass’. The sequencing in particular gives the newcomer to design thinking a step-by-step how-to. Read the blog here, and download the one-pager here
Useful post by FirstRound on pay transparency. Turns out, it’s not either / or but a spectrum along an axis of transparency-to -flexibility. Compass CEO bethanye Blount gives the guidance in this insightful, in depth interview. Must read, so do it here
Excellent post from Kim-Mai Cutler, Operations Partner at Initialized Capital on remote work culture. Main takeaway? Don’t fly in future remote employees for in-person interviews - that’s not how they are going to be working, and all you’re going to get are false signals.
I had the pleasure is sharing a stage with Global VP of Talent Acquisition Kevin Blair last month and was privy to some of the thinking here - IBM rolling out Agile in TA. Here is the comprehensive overview by Dave Putterman published on Linkedin and more on the conversation here.
What do you get when you apply neurochemistry with incentives for more effective management? A pretty damn good post on culture building, that’s what. Oldie from HBR (first published in 2017) but I came across this only recently and it has aged extremely well. Have a read here
Interesting perspective PointNine Capital’s Robin Dechant on where industrial companies are and where they should be going. Presentation is from the investor perspective, but plenty of it accessible / relevant for us in the hiring business.
By using the ‘Formula’ of course. Superbly presented resource for anyone involved in the hiring and management of staff. Congrats to Greg Skloot for putting this together. This is a post everyone should read.
Hiring ‘entrepreneurial talent’ is high on the priority list for corporations desperately trying to digitise and innovate. If attracting this type of talent is important to you, have a read of this outstanding how-to post from The Bakery’s Ellen Donnelly,
“…Confirming what people already believe can sometimes help organizations overcome barriers to change….”
It’s probably not that obvious an insight, but its worth underlining that we need to systematise repetition to in order to really effect culture change. Super interesting piece from Sloan Review on how to make it happen.
We are in dire need of new models to rethink the work we do. It’s very pleasing to see some new thinking from Quora’s Head of Engineering Ozzie Osman on the ‘candidate climb’, a recruiting model based on escalating effort expended by the candidate. It’s not perfect but we need alternatives to the 'recruiting funnel’. Have a read here.
Great example from our buddies at Heresy.io of the adapting the agile way of working from it’s origins in software development to the world of business. Can it work for recruiting? I think probably could, as does Mark Lundgren, who might be doing something about it soon. Examples if you have them folks. More discussion here
Remarkable post by Barclay’s Ian Miell on a challenge all of us who have worked with or for enterprise scale organisations would recognise. Generous, wise, and true, this post gives an explainer for the inexplicable and points to a potential way out. It’s a must read for everyone here.
Clear thinking by Josh Bersin on how to design for resilience. There are 5 principles but really the first one is the most significant - distribution control, centralised co-ordination. It’s Prussian Army Auftragstaktik all over again.
How do you secure budget for your recruiting strategy? Most of us will simply just fail at this, so we may do well to pay attention to this outstanding how-to series from Mary Grace Hennesey. I first saw part 3 in the fb group, but then followed the trail to parts 1 and part 2. I’d recommend reading all three.
Case study is on exec hiring, but the lessons of the process could be applied to any experienced hire. Especially like the ‘3 strengths’ approach, as well as early referencing. Great brainfood from FirstRound again - enjoy it.
Fascinating experiment by Japanese chip maker Disco Corp, where everything in the company has a price, including daily auctions of work assignments, paid via an internal virtual currency call ‘Will’. Is this a potential future model of company organisation? Must read for the cultural experimentalists out there - do it here
It’s hard to write a credible how-to on culture building but guess what? Bunch.ai have managed it. Loads of goodies in this post, including the Culture Canvass, Culture Hacks Library, a free chrome extension of culture alignment…. covers a lot ground if fixing culture is part of your brief.
Important post of the reality of modern, professional software engineering. Coding is different when you’re paid to do it - it usually means you’re optimising / refactoring other people’s work. Melissa McEwen has had enough - she’s giving it up to be a farmer. Thanks to brainfooder Stevie Buckley for the share
Github is increasingly becoming a hub for HR / Recruiting content, especially for tech careers. This is a great initiative by our buddies from Financial Times - especially pay attention to the competency framework. Blog explainer is here. H/T Christine Ng for the share.
Fascinating social experiment by a company which pays everyone the same salary, regardless of role or seniority. Credit to iwantmyname (great service for finding a new domain names btw) for going this a go. This is their 10 year retro - and why they are sticking with the policy.
Fascinating piece of proprietary research from our buddies at Peakon - the 2019 Heartbeat report on employee retention delivers some critically important insights. Want to know who your at risk employees are? Then read this report
Much needed post from Josh Bersin on how to read employer reviews. To paraphrase my friend Bill Boorman ‘reviews are written by extremists’ and need to be taken as such. They are resources for learning folks, not for judgement. Read Josh’s post here
More culture as content, this time from our buddies at Blendle who this week published their Employee Handbook. It’s basically a wiki for all things people related. A resource and maybe an inspiration for us here.
Superb essay from Peter Cappelli who makes a compelling case for a fundamental reset on our mindset on recruitment. Hiring from the outside is inherently difficult and things can only get better if we do less of it. Must read
The journey from staffer to manager can be rapid in high growth businesses. Edward Kim, CTO of Gusto tells his story of moving from ‘nerd in the closet’ to leading a team of 100+ software engineers. Great read for anyone involved in tech hiring / tech management.
How do we make decisions when there isn’t a ‘King’? 'Rough consensus’ over majority vote is amongst the many lessons offered in this outstanding post by the good folks at Doist. Long read but a must read for everyone here.
ONA stands for ‘Organisation Network Analytics’. It’s something I’ve discovered quite recently, and I’m banging the drum about it. It’s a change of perspective on how to analyse teams and individuals. This is a useful and accessible post from Philip Arkcoll for those who want to know more.
Fantastic commentary from long time brainfooder Lars Schmidt on the end of ‘culture fit’. It’s a catch-all phrase for rejecting folks who aren’t like us. Examples of a new way from Facebook, Pandora and Atlassian included in this short accessible essay.
FirstRound has one of the best business blogs for the talent industry around. Here is another in a long line of gems: a great essay from Patty McCord created the famed ‘Culture Doc’ that became Netflix’s foundation. Radical honesty that isn’t an affectation. It’s brilliant, inspiring and true.
It’s fair to say Laurie Ruettiman is back. Hers is a voice we need in lending perspective to the mundane in new, thought provoking ways. This is a great essay on conflict, accountability and forgiveness. Also check out her new project #LetsFixWork
“…the most dramatic negative effect of metric fixation is its propensity to incentivise gaming: that is, encouraging professionals to maximise the metrics in ways that are at odds with the larger purpose of the organisation….” You do what you measure, it’s the curse of the KPI.
Always great to see non-specialists write about recruitment. Here’s a short post from HelloSign’s Joseph Walla on what you have to do to scale from 10 people to 20. HR gets a mention, but not much of one.
Along with ‘team-player’, 'passion’ is probably the most over used cliche in company job descriptions. OH subscriber Cherone Duggan from our buddies at Workable pens a much needed post on why we need to remove it.
Does this resonate with you? Perhaps a big reason why people start either accelerating harder / faster to retire sooner, or look to drop out of the rat race in some way. Work is not what it’s cracked up to be. And why would we ever think it would be?
Culture Amp’s Senior People Operations Manager, Stacey Nordwall provides a comprehensive, easy to navigate, practical to implement how-to resource creating an on-boarding program that puts people first.
“How you operate is linked to how you’re perceived: says Denise Lee Yohn. We need more of this thinking, though I think we have succeeded in retiring nerf gun / foosball tables from the debate, which is progress
Outstanding post from Matt Bierner, whose main learning from 10 years on the pre-eminent Q&A site on the planet - Stack Overflow - is how to actually ask a good question. In an era where asynchronous-written is fast overtaking synchronous-verbal communication, being able to ask a good question might become a critical skill in business. Check out the how-to here. Must read folks.
Interesting framework to use when considering team fit. What is your functional role? And - perhaps more importantly - what is your psycho-social role? As recruiters, we obviously don’t screen at all for this, beyond perhaps the team meet or team interview.
Are we in a ‘Talent Golden Age’? Brainfooder Zoe Jervier makes a persuasive case we entering into one. It’s becoming a more strategic function, tooling is getting better and…people are actually choosing to enter the profession. It’s a validating read.
Are we tired of hearing about Uber yet? Probably not, so here’s an intelligent discussion on how performance management influences culture. For Uber - and other companies that use ‘Stack Ranking’ - culture is a dark forest, where to succeed others must fail.
We all need more time off folks. This 2018 benchmark report of vacation policy statistics by Owl Labs covers attitudes to vacation policy, vacation guilt, and time off from work in the US vs Europe. Bring on the 4 day week. H/T brainfooder Ach Petrosyan for the share
It’s becoming a cliche to say that job descriptions are old hat. Few of us seem to be doing anything about it though. Here’s an actionable and well linked post by Corporate Rebels for those who want to try. Thanks long time brainfooder Steve Jacobs for the share.
Jargon can be an evolved efficiency in communication - or a conscious barrier to entry for those who we want to intimidate. Fantastic post again from Dropbox, who are finding out ways to put an anthropological lens to common workplace challenges.
Superb analysis of one of the most (in)famous moments in Amazon’s journey. Jeff Bezos course corrects by insisting on shared media for communication. ‘Everybody who doesn’t do this will be fired’. Probably couldn’t do cultural triage like this these days Jeff. Relevant to anybody who cares about culture, remote work, synchronous vs asynchronous communication. H/T to brainfooder Denis Dinkevich of the share.
Which countries do expats feel particularly welcome, or unwelcome, and why? 12,500 expats surveyed about their life abroad - super resource on the challenges of relocation. Downloadable the PDF here and H/T to the one and only Jacob Sten Madsen for the share.
The work-from-home revolution forces us to review how transferrable our processes really are to the virtual world. Decent post from LinkedIn on one of the most important - recruiter relationship with the hiring manager - have a read here.
Atlassian are one of many vendors who are producing some excellent brainfood these days. This post on the usefulness of industrial thinking to post-industrial business raises simple questions to hidden problems. Efficiency is not the same as Effectiveness. Well worth a read.
Brainfood favourite Jeff Moore is back again with another outstanding post - this time of hiring for culture fit. Credit to Jeff for directly taking on the critique of culture fit, as well as providing 3 do-able tips on how to do it well. Have a read here
The problem isn’t noise, but who’s making it. Turns out, we can’t tune out if the we know the people who are talking -presumably because they might be talking about us. We are irredeemably tribal it seems.
It had to be one of the toughest take-over jobs in the world, but Dara Khosrowshahi - two months in as the new CEO of Uber - seems to making the best of it. Here’s his post on the company’s values revamp. Update: that job keeps getting harder - Uber loses appeal in UK employee rights; huge implications for the rest of the gig economy, with likely knock on effect to contractor / freelancer world.
Outstanding essay from Arjun Sethi on the journey a company makes when it scales from single product teams to ‘people platforms that support teams’. Great balance between depth & accessibility, along with some excellent cameo portraits which illustrate the main points Arjun makes. Have a read here
It’s always great to see non-specialists think and write about their hiring experiences. João Luis shares his experience of hiring software developers - there’s some can’t-argue-with-this content here, as well as innovative ideas even experienced recruiters can learn from - it’s an excellent read.
Few would disagree that the repositioning of HR into a strategic rather than administrative function is critical to modern talent management. Quartz at Work are producing some great content around this, including this piece on the rise of the Chief Human Resource Officer.
Some interesting insights in this case study on eye wear giant, Warby Parker. Decentralised responsibility for on-boarding for a start - not owned by HR, but by all elements of the business. A few more nuggets in this one folks, this is a decent case study by our buddies at Jilt.
Great to see examples of cultural change from within the recruitment industry. Jamie Leonard and the team behind RecFest, moved to a 4-day working week this year - here’s their documentation on how it went. Love the transparency, love the learning. Have a read here
What is the average turnover rate in tech companies? Outstanding post from Human Predictions which dives into LinkedIn public data to figure out how long people stay in tech jobs in tech companies. It’s a great read. H/T ‘foodie Denis Dinkevich for the share
Have Performance Reviews been unfairly disparaged? Reading this post encourages me to think that maybe they have, especially if you find a way to do them well. Excellent post again from FirstRound (not a bad piece of content on this site), which combines theory with practice, a well considered framework and even templates to copy and use. Have a read
Remarkable post on recruiting, ossified organisational culture and the remedy of radical change. Complete with a call to action to send CV’s to a private gmail email account. This is recruitment as done by Dominic Cummings - a.k.a the evil mastermind of Brexit - and some say, the most influential man in the UK. Crazy genius or just crazy? You kind of have to read it and make your own mind up.
Basecamp were a mission driven business before it was even a thing. This guide to internal communication is another outstanding contribution to the growing body of knowledge on company culture. Focused on internal comms, the lessons are for any kind of communication, in any context. Must read. H/T Jelmer Zuidema for the original share in the fb group
Recruitment, retention, transition, ’previous idiot syndrome’ - it’s all there in this extract from Michael Lewis’s forthcoming book on the Trump White House. Underneath the politics, there’s a recruitment story here.
Any of this sound familiar? Probably does if you’ve worked at an early stage, rapid growth startup. Polemic from brainfooder Matt Buckland, with an unwritten call to action for founders and business leaders everywhere - culture cannot be cosmetic.
The excellent headline describing what we already know - that what we already know, isn’t going to be enough. Some excellent techniques for lifelong learning, in the workplace and in the community. Adobe internal material but useful culture stuff for us all - check out it here.
Simple reason: feedback is associated with evaluation. And evaluation is a posh word for judgement on past actions, whereas advice is perspective on future action. Surprisingly clear insight from some important experiments - must read for everyone here
Thought provoking post from ‘Science for Work’, a blog dedicated to challenging opinion with evidence, and this post is a great example of what they are trying to do. Enjoy the read. H/T Liam Fitzgerald for the share
…speaking of Glassdoor reviews, this gem on twitter this week - an employee leaving a negative review, based on the employer (as it happens, Indeed) denying her the right of concealed carry. Crazy sounding stuff, but the example raises a difficult question on how to prioritise employees sense of security when they diverge, and when they conflict with another.
Vendor produced content is becoming some of the best stuff online these days. Dropbox’s ’work in progress’ blog is setting a standard. Check this post on radical candour in the workplace for an example of what I mean - it’s all about the 2 C’s - care & challenge.
Sherlock Holmes said once to Watson: “You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear.” It’s an encapsulation of the main theme of his thought provoking post from HBR and how the process of ‘de-familiarisation’ might be the key to thinking outside the box. Must read.
This could be the most brilliant essay ever written on organisational design or the rantings of a maniac. That I’m not sure is the reason why I’m sharing with you all so you can decide. Just promise me: read it twice before you do.
Two things immediately to think about in this post: 1) the order of priority of the roles listed and 2) the clear absence of HR / TA / People Ops in the list. Perception problem is still a problem for us folks. Can we change it or …..is it actually just true?
‘Levelling up’ is tech speak for climbing the career ladder, as each tier of seniority or level comes with different responsibilities and a changing role. Check out Levels.fyi for a cross company comparison tool of what I mean. Meanwhile, Square have developed a growth framework to support engineers who are transitioning to engineering management. Of interest to tech recruiters, and also to anyone else developing a progression framework.
Jeff Bezos has some simple rules. ‘Two Pizzas’ is one of them - no team should be too large that it cannot be fed on two pizza’s. Auren Hoffman explains in this fascinating Quora post. H/T John Sumser for the share
Intellectual capital trumps financial capital is the general idea behind this piece. Basically, we need to make space in our day to think. Tough to do in recruiting, where targets and KPI’s create the constant pressure to optimise
Interesting title, interesting concepts introduced in this accessible post on workplace psychology. The abstractions are nicely chained down to reality with an excellent how-to guide at the end. Have a read
Maria Konnikova writes about how to create a positive work environment. Research shows that it involves not telling people to ‘be positive’ but to create 'a moderately regulated environment …with a high degree of autonomy’. Can we do that? I think we probably can.
‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet’ reckoned Juliet in Shakespeare’s most famous play and reminder for us on how important - or not - nomenclature might be. What if the term 'human resources’ is really holding back the function in business? A conversation started by brainfooder Lars Schmidt in this excellent post.
Love the writing and the thinking behind this post from Robin Schooling. In fact, I think I love Robin Schooling (you should follow this lady). We should have a dream folks and make those dreams happen - have a read here
Mark Suster on why great meetings often don’t follow through. Focused on founder vs investor relationship but I suspect we can all find analogy here. Excellent post on why you need to remind people why they love(d) you.
Some nice writing and thinking from Damon Klotz here on the workplace trends too keep an eye on for the next year. Particularly like the influence remote first / remote only organisations will have on co-located businesses - they will set the standard on communication & organisational efficiency. Have a read here
As making external hires becomes ever more challenging, focus has begun shifting towards retaining those that you already have. In depth report from Deloitte with 5 key trends / to-do’s to deliver in 2020. Have a read here
Love this post by Kapwing (cool product video editing btw). It’s honest, naive - in a good way - and packed with straight talking we can all learn from. It’s a great read for early stage founders looking for support in their first real hiring challenge and for all recruiters really. Have at it.
“All data contains bias. It is created by a culture for a purpose. You can see the bias by noticing what isn’t measured or managed”. How we handle human capital data is already says a lot about what we are as an organisation or team. Great thinking again by OH subscriber John Sumser.
Onfido VP of Engineering Morgan Bruce on building teams. Worth juxtaposing this with the Harvard Business Review post earlier in this newsletter - some noticeable commonalities, especially on the value of keeping teams together for longer, and bringing them back for repeat projects.
1. Keep teams small 2. Take your time 3. Use the same teams 4. Share work equally 5. Get some seniors in. All of this from aggregating anonymised data from thousands of DropBox projects - super interesting data set. Read the insight here.
Are you measured on ‘number of hires’? I’m guessing that you probably are. It is absolutely is a bad metric. But it is easy to put into a spreadsheet and so we default to it. It’s the tyranny of KPI’s folks - we do, what we can measure
Is there a better corporate blog on talent than First Round? Here’s an interview / case study with Patreon’s Lucia Guillory on her pioneering approach to People Ops that creates an end-to-end employee experience. It’s kind of a must read. H/T OH subscriber Kayleigh Smart for the share.
Interesting post by our buddies at Beamery, on paradox of internal mobility - we get some of the best results from moving people around within businesses, and yet struggle to implement systems to support it. Combination of theory, case study and future scenario, this post is a useful conversation starter. Maybe something we can talk about in the fb group.
What makes a trustworthy leader? Ability to foster positive relationships, good judgement / expertise and consistency, according to this post from HBR. Not sure I’m entirely onboard with the first two points, but the last one - consistency - is key. Have a read here
As we continue to think about the future of work, we are increasingly looking into the past, in particular examining artisanal work with the modern lens of ‘good work’. An interesting post on skills learning and why apprenticeships beats the classroom. Worthy read if you want to learn how to learn
Not all email of course, but most of them, especially if they are the administrative busywork which are demands for attention , requests for unscheduled work or simply communication for the sake of communication. Important read for anyone interested in productivity, mental well being and engagement.
We need another unit of analysis to better understand engagement. Company is too big, individual is too small, it’s the proximate individuals within a team which makes the difference. Outstanding analysis from the comprehensive ADPRI study. This is a must read post
We’re all ‘doing’ agile now aren’t we? Not so says Sean Dexter who introduces the cool concept of 'agile theatre’ to us over the course of this excellent post. Useful for beginners as well as frustrated practitioners - which I suspect describes most of us in this community. Have a read here
Outstanding counterpoint to the above post, so should be read side-by-side. Couldn’t agree more with the sentiment expressed by brainfooder Rassam Yaghmaei - there’s plenty of recruiter bad practice out there, but are we taking too much joy in shaming it? Have a read here
Superb post on internal communication by SameTab. Has a bit of everything - social psychology, employee engagement, work-in-context, finding the message, choosing the medium and getting into a rhythm of context driven communication. Must read folks.
Chances are you’re doing it all wrong says Patty McCord. Lots of gold nuggets in this wide ranging piece, particularly key points such as recruiters literacy on the business they’re recruiting for, ‘A players’ being a contextual term and compensation levels that make sense. Published in January but worth a review again here.
What happens if you reverse engineer how mission first companies describe themselves in their culture docs? An interesting experiment by Anya Dvornikova who is applying product development methodology to culture building. Bit of a massive post, but dig in, because there’s some gold here. H/T to ‘foodie Denis Dinkevich for the share.
If hiring is a priority, then it must mean that you dedicate the resources to build hiring capacity. Head of Talent is no longer a luxury for Startup - it’s a critical early hire. Thanks to Priyanka Karunanithi of BGF Ventures for the write up