I gave a talk last week on Building Strong and Performing Teams and How to best use Social Media to boost your Employer Brand. You will find here the main takeaways. Other talks will be scheduled shortly, I will communicate the dates on LinkedIn and on my Facebook page.
Most companies spend the majority of their time on business strategy and too little time thinking, let alone doing anything about People Strategy and Company Culture. People are your most important assets. You can have the best idea, find a market for it and even get sufficient fundings, but if you don't have the right people in the right jobs at the right time, your idea will not be worth much for very long.
Here are 5 best-practices, one for each pillar*, for strong and impactful People Strategy:
The objective of a Company Culture** is NOT to look nice and please everyone. It is not just about a colorful workplace, a foosball table and free lunches. A good Company Culture states a DIFFERENCE and should in some ways discourage those not fitting in while attracting those in sync. The reason why Google got so famous for its amazing workplace is because it was so different from anything else.
Netflix provides another great example of how stating your singularity as a company can make the headlines. Netflix’s company culture document is a 127 slides powerpoint, with no music, no animation, and though it is one of the most influential document of the Silicon Valley and generated OVER 15 MILLION VIEWS! Why??? Because the unconventional talent management ideas developed. One of their core values is to hire, reward, and tolerate only fully formed adults, and to rely on their judgment and common sense. For instance, workers are allowed to take whatever vacation time they feel is appropriate. Netflix has no formal travel and expense policy. Employees get to choose how much (if any) of their compensation would be in the form of equity based on their personal tolerance for risk.
State your difference. Bean bags won’t do the job!
KEY #2 : BE TRUE AND CONSISTENT!
Similarly to Netflix which translated their values into meaningful policies in line with their values, you need to be consistent and true in your company setup!
Your HR policies must be a consistent reflection of your company culture, no matter how radical your values are! Let’s take Semco and his unconventional CEO Ricardo Semler as another example.
This Brazilian company was founded in the 1950s by Ricardo’s father. Ricardo took over 30 years later at the age of 21, and came with pretty radical ideas about how businesses should operate. For the first 20 years, Semco was very autocratic and relied heavily on command and control management style. Ricardo wanted to bring “democracy” in the workplace. Within a few days, he dismissed 75 percent of the senior executives and began putting his ideas into practice. And it worked! Turnover was multiplied by 40 in 20 years ($160 million, up from $4 million when he took over)!
What does Workplace Democracy mean at Semco and how does that translate into their daily operations? The philosophy is built on participation and involvement. Semco has no job titles, no organizational charts, and no headquarters. Employees have no dedicated workstation (“If you don’t even know where your people are, you can’t possibly keep an eye on them. All that’s left to judge is performance.” Ricardo says). Meetings are voluntary; if no one shows up, it means that the topic to be discussed must be untimely or unimportant. Workers set their own schedules... and their own salaries! All of the company’s financial information is public, so everyone knows what everyone else makes. Workers choose their managers, evaluate them twice a year and the results are publicly posted.
Although it may seem crazy (and for sure different!), the reason why it works so well is the great consistency between the CEO values, the company culture and the organisational setup. The majority will be discouraged by such practices, but it allows Semco to attract and retain the right employees for them, people in sync with their values.
So who are YOUR candidates?
KEY #3 : PIMP UP YOUR EMPLOYER BRAND!
Let's say you've created one of the best company cultures and HR policies in your space. How do you showcase your efforts to people outside your organization and attract the right candidates?
To answer that question, use your most powerful resources:
1 - YOUR EMPLOYEES
Get your staff to share your company's culture online. By creating share-worthy office spaces and experiences, the company is getting free exposure on social medias.
Create corporate videos showcasing your workplace, your employees and your culture. 60% of visitors prefer to watch a video about a company than reading about it and videos attract three times as many clicks compared to text. Just make it your own, whether conventional, less conventional … or totally far out.
2 - YOUR CANDIDATES
Candidates are the equivalent of your customers in a People Strategy. Pamper your candidates, care for their experience***! Did you know that for one bad review, you will need at least 12 positive feedback to counterbalance it! Think about it, when you go on TripAdvisor, won’t that bad review actually drastically impact your choice of hotel, even with 5 times as many positive reviews?
TIP #4: CREATE MAGIC MOMENTS
Branding is not just for the outside: You need to communicate and brand your values internally too and build that unique experience.
At Google, employees are regularly encouraged to publicly share about the first time they noticed something about working at Google that really resonated with them on a deeper level: Their Google Magic Moment. Several were recorded on video and widely shared internally. And each one I attended put tears in my eyes and reminded of the reason why I loved working at Google so much! This recent one from Kirsten Gil, VP of Business Operations, is a beautiful illustration of those Magic Moments.
The objective is obviously not to make your employees cry. But to remind them of the reasons why them chose to join your company! Create such moments and give your employees the opportunity to remember what brought them where they are.
KEY #5: MAKE HEROES IN EVERY JOBS
Employees do not leave a company, they leave a manager. It is the #1 reason form employees to leave a company.
For some reason, we always thing promotion has to be vertical: if you are over-performing as an individual contributor, you are promoted manager. But not everyone is made to be a manager. And not everyone wants to become a people manager... it is a totally different job, with a totally different skillset. It is important to recognise the necessity for promoting expertise in every roles and at every levels. Promotion CAN be horizontal. We need heroes in every job, employees who are passionate in what they do, who mentor and inspire the more junior ones (Even our lunch ladies!). And it IS fine for them to have higher salary than their managers!
* For more on the 5 Pillars of People Strategy, visit this page)