People & Culture Breakfast Roundtable Notes

Breakfast Roundtable

Learnitect and Ignite recently hosted a breakfast roundtable with People Ops representatives from over 30 fast growth tech companies including Iwoca, Gousto, GoCardless, Bulb, Farfetch, Appear Here, Yieldify, Makers Academy and many more. We’ve written up our notes below for anyone that didn’t make it, and if you’d like to come to the next one, please email us.

// RECRUITMENT

Employer Branding

  • Recognise that recruitment is a selling process.
  • Clarify the employee value proposition with help from the founders. Ensure you include long term upside potential. Actively communicate this.
  • Employee videos get a great response. You can feature:
    • What people are doing day to day
    • What attracted existing employees to your company
    • BUT, team must be engaged and willing to help(!)
  • Talks and meetups are great way to develop awareness for your company as an employer:
    • Making it clear that the company supports this can encourage more people to think about it
    • Providing an opportunity for people to give their talks internally allows them to practice
  • Blog posts can work well, and can also be written by people throughout the business
  • Making sure that candidates have a good experience whether or not they are made an offer is super important as this affects employer brand:
    • Assign them a buddy to keep them engaged and give them feedback
    • Get feedback from them on the quality of interviews
    • Give them feedback on what went well and not so well
    • Have clear timelines for the process and stick to them
    • Treat them with respect
  • Canva is a good resource to create graphics

Process

  • Assign a cost to recruitment process i.e. opportunity cost of each hire going through the pipeline. This allows you to trade off internal vs. external resources
  • Codify your values early and recruit against them to develop the company culture and avoid bad hires
    • Define your culture and what this means during recruitment process
    • Provide guidance on how to test for it, and make sure this is followed
    • Bulb provided examples here
  • Standardise and centralise recruitment to scale and enforce consistent quality
    • Provide interview training for all your managers
    • Make it clear who has the decision to hire. You might want to use Bain’s RAPID framework
    • Assign objectives for each stage of the interview
  • Consider creating trial days for the candidate to work at your office

Graduates & Apprentices

  • A few people had tried apprentices and placement students; impressed with Whitehat but didn’t hire due to lack of resources to train and attitude and culture fit of apprentices.
  • Soft skills are more important in hires than hard skills. i.e. look for ability to take feedback, compassion and willingness to learn.
  • People don’t know what they don’t know if learning on the job, so you need to have a clear learning pathway for people to follow
  • Graduates will also need to be coached on what the culture means for them so that they grow into it
  • Client facing jobs tend not to suit graduates as they need experience to be credible, and in contrast clearly defined functional roles tend to work well

// CULTURE

  • Defining values has to be a collective process:
    • Use small groups to brainstorm words that people associate with the company.
    • Group these into a small number of themes
    • Convert these themes into expected behaviours within the company
    • Pass all communications and people processes (especially recruiting) through values
  • Aim is to codify existing behaviour, not create new behaviours
  • Values cannot be generic but must be unique to the business
  • Much easier to codify values early:
    • Fewer people to input into them
    • Becomes self perpetuating
    • Fewer process to update afterwards, and less marketing collateral will need updating
  • Really important to make sure the leadership team are connected to the team
  • Values need to be connected to performance management process too
  • Good resources:
    • Netflix culture deck
    • Airbnb podcast

// DIVERSITY

  • Rewriting job specs to avoid gendered language
    • Example words that increase proportion of men applying: “smashing it”, “ninja”, “competitive”
    • Example words that increase proportion of women applying: “collaborative”, “supportive”
    • More examples here
    • Bulb say applications from females jumped from 24-30% doing this
  • Increasing number of minority applicants makes it easier to prevent positive discrimination
  • Clarifying and communicating your company’s vision often helps attract female candidates
  • Diversity also includes diversity of background. Look outside tech for candidates with the right mindset rather than just for technical skills alone.

// PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT

  • Performance management needs to fit overall people strategy:
    • Match company values and culture
    • Fit with company goals or OKRs
    • Provide development plan for individuals
    • Happen on a regular basis
  • Important to communicate the goals and process for performance management well, and ensure managers get sufficient training in how to apply it
  • Radical candor is a popular framework for honest, caring feedback
  • 360s are a good way to get feedback from across organisation
  • Ad hoc informal feedback can have the most impact at changing people’s behaviours
  • Encouraging regular informal coffee chats among team members enables better information flow
  • Need to think about how you calibrate feedback across different departments
  • Consider getting coaches for top performers (recommendation: ‘Coach in a Box’)
  • Exit people the right way if they are no longer a good fit with the business

// ABOUT US

Learnitect

We develop outstanding leadership at the world’s fastest growing digital businesses. We organise programmes that pull together high potential team leads from different companies and teach them the skills they need to be excellent managers, as well as provide them with a network of peers for continued development. We make rising stars more productive, more professional and feel more valued. More information on our website.