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Startup Culture: Q&A with SocialRadar's Michael Chasen

Let’s face it, culture’s hot right now. From Zappos and Netflix to Hubspot and Google, founders are eager to create their own manifestos and espouse a cool culture. I’m constantly reminding clients that it takes more than a list of values to create a culture. The values have to become part of the everyday of your organization. And that means you have to hold employees accountable for them. At exaqueo, we call them work rules. It’s how our clients go beyond a list of core values and cool perks to a culture that really sustains. As founders, sustainability is the model we should be emulating. So I’m always seeking founders who are making that happen–creating a culture that lives, breathes and sustains. This week, I caught up with one founder who’s doing just that.

Michael Chasen is the founder and CEO of SocialRadar and former founder and CEO of Blackboard, Inc. SocialRadar aggregates existing social data to better connect users in real-time, in real places. With almost $13 million in funding earlier this year, SocialRadar’s growing fast. That’s where culture comes in, and Michael knows the importance of getting it right, now.

Susan LaMotte, exaqueo (SL): Does your company have a stated set of cultural values?

Michael Chasen, Social Radar (MC): Indeed, and we worked hard to create it. An introduction to our culture.

SL: When you made the effort to understand and strengthen your culture, what did you learn the most?

MC: When we started the company, we knew that culture was going to be an important component of a successful team and product. We didn’t leave our culture to chance; instead we called upon various influences to establish it and put it in writing for all on board to refer to. It’s one thing to say that teamwork is important, but it’s another to operationalize the company to support that—for example, we have fixed “work late nights” and team outings. In other words, we have both scheduled group overtime and scheduled group fun time. We offer perks such as gym membership, healthy dinners on work late nights, and general flexibility with hours to show our commitment to a work-life balance.

SL: That’s so true–you have to have examples of the values in practice to make them come alive.  What will you do to grow the company you want to grow?

MC: If you build it, they will come, right? We are pouring our energy into fine-tuning a product that is not only cool but ultimately indispensable. Even our marketing team would admit that word of mouth can be more powerful than any planned campaign...

…continue reading the rest of this post over on Tech Cocktail where it was originally posted.

Susan LaMotte is the founder of exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact exaqueo to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce strategy that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.

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Talent and HR News Roundup: exaqueo insights edition

News Sign PosterEvery week we gather HR and Talent news for you -- the best of what we've read. This week, we're turning the tables and sharing some of the best of what we've written both for exaqueo's blog and in other channels where we share our insights. The common theme? Rethinking what we often hold true: processes should stay static, we can't learn from areas of the business completely different from ours, constant achievements are the goal...this is the norm. And sometimes, the norm has to be flipped. So this week we bring our insights on how to rethink some of the common things you do from milestones to updates to hiring. And maybe you'll shift the tide come Monday.

1) Stop Asking Me What's Next from Forbes

"The constant milestone madness is everywhere. A good friend of mine is on the partner track at a well-known consulting firm. People can’t stop asking if she’s up for partner this year. For my fellow entrepreneurs, the what-next question is constant too. Everyone wants to know your growth plan, your exit plan, your plan to go public.  Are you as exhausted as I am?  I get it. When people ask these questions (personal or business-related) they’re trying to be nice, interested in your work, or are genuinely curious (if they want to promote you or invest in your company).  But we’ve created a world where no one is happy where they are."

2) Recruiters, Why Don't We Scrum More? from Pete Radloff on the exaqueo blog

"Many of you who recruit for technical and/or engineering roles are familiar with the Scrum development methodology. Not familiar? NO PROBLEM. It’s not just for engineers! Scrum is a methodology that incorporates the idea of fast development cycles, frequent releases and quick stand-ups versus long, drawn out, “Death by Powerpoint” meetings. Hmm, maybe the developers are on to something here.  If we start to think and work like the client teams we’re supporting, there’s a greater chance of success of us getting what we need."

3) Paying Employees to Take Unlimited Vacations from Upstart Business Journal

"It's a great model if you balance it with performance measures and guidelines. Employees have to be accountable to perform and should be rewarded when they work hard to get things done quickly. If it's all about performance, they'll hold each other accountable, both on taking too much vacation and on not taking enough."

4) The 3-5 Year Gap: Finding Talent With Actual Talent from Tech Cocktail

"There’s no shortage of college graduates searching for jobs–some have internship and project experience, but they’re still new, and entry-level talent has to be trained. Programs like Nashville’s Software SchoolApp Academy, and Hackbright Academy are helping to fill the gap. But that doesn’t help when you have jobs that require experience now and you can’t find the talent. In these situations, it’s tempting to outsource the problem. After all, you’re busy running companies, bringing in new business and customers, running beta tests–you don’t have the time to devote to a recruiting strategy. Thing is–neither do most external recruiters. They’re going to focus on sourcing the position like you did and then charge you a sizable percentage when you choose one of their candidates. Not that you should avoid external recruiters completely, but what if there were a way to save that fee without exceptional effort?"

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Susan LaMotte is the founder of exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact exaqueo to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce strategy that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.

 

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5 Ways to Save Money on Your Hiring Strategy Now

Ask your average corporate recruiter, and they’ll scoff at startups having trouble hiring great talent. But what they don’t realize is the numerous obstacles that face growing companies when it comes to hiring the best people. Startups are burdened by a lack of time to devote to the hiring process. And in many cities, they often have trouble finding highly skilled technical talent willing to take a risk and join a startup – even one with incredible potential.

Plus, it’s really hard to compete against big, local brands offering higher pay, fewer hours, and better benefits. And technical talent often prefer the flexibility of freelance roles where they can manage time, costs, and the type of projects they work on.

Startups often turn to headhunters in desperation. But there’s one problem: headhunters cost an arm and a leg. Specifically 15-30 percent+ of the new hire’s salary. For a developer, that can run more than $10,000 or more based on the level and the city. Plus they aren’t always looking out for the startup’s best interests. They want to make the placement and get the cash. They’re not incented to care about long-term fit or performance.

Instead of passing the buck and sucking up the contingency fees, there are cheaper and easier ways to find the talent you need:

1. Hire an Internal Recruiter or Two

If you’re going to hire at least two people in the next 12 months, it’s a worthwhile investment based on what you’ll spend for a headhunter. It takes the burden of managing the process off of the leadership team, and the recruiters can also begin to help you manage the team and growth.

2. Use Sourcing Tools and Searches

Forget expensive job boards. Use your current developers to use unique search strings and do some advanced online searching for candidates you wouldn’t find otherwise. For example, one of Facebook’s best engineers came from a small, no-name web shop in Maine who wouldn’t have been found locally.

Or, make a small investment in a tool like RemarkableHire that combs niche tech sites like StackOverflow and Dribbble to find actual evidence of performance and tech knowledge rather than the self-professed Hadoop expert you find on LinkedIn.

3. Get the Whole Team Involved

This isn’t an employee referral contest. Require team members to participate in the search for every new hire and offer up three candidates for each open position...Read More Over on TechCocktail.

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This post originally appeared on TechCocktail written by Susan LaMotte, the founder of exaqueo. A human resources consultancy, exaqueo helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to grow in the right way.

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Talent and HR News Roundup: Supporting Your Employees Edition

Last week we talked about the oft-overlooked yet major necessity in startup and high-growth companies: employee feedback. This week, we're taking that a step further. Feedback is just the baseline requirement with your employees. You also owe them some support, coaching and development along the way.  That's not to say they shouldn't take ownership of their own careers and development. They should. But you need to show them how.  Supporting your employees is part of your job even if your company is three people. This week we've rounded up some advice for you as managers and some links to pass along to your team. Feedback is the beginning, follow-through, learning, growth and development is another.

For your team:

1) Four Ways to Advance Your Career at a Startup at The Daily Muse

"At a start-up, there’s always way more to do than people to get it done. So, think about the types of people your company would hire if the company was twice the size, choose an area that you’d like to learn about, and suggest a project to the founders. For example, if your company has talked about building out a sales team in the future and you’d love to get exposure in that area, offer to test out the viability of sales as a customer acquisition strategy. As long as you’re still performing in your core role, your manager will probably be happy to have the extra help—and you’ll have the chance to build out a new skill set."

2) Why Your Boss Still Hasn't Promoted You at The Fast Track

"Do you take feedback well, or get huffy and pout or gripe about any criticism? You’ve got to develop thicker skin the higher you go on the career ladder, so an inability to accept feedback professionally could be sending the message you’re immature and not ready to play with the big kids."

For you:

3) Managing with Empathy at Medium

"As you might imagine, the work days at Obama for America (the president’s 2012 reëlection campaign) were long, with good reason. But it takes its toll on people over time. My colleague Lauren Peterson came up with the idea of guaranteeing folks two nights each week that, no matter what, they’d be out the door by 8 p.m. We quickly adopted this on my team and referred to it as “time to do human things”. A few people asked me if they could come in at noon instead. That let them pay bills, buy groceries or just get some much needed sleep. The “in by noon” option quickly became the more popular choice."

4) How to Write a Love Letter to Your Future Startup Employee at Tech Cocktail

"... explain how you will show employees how your startup values their talent, work ethic, and dedication. Consider the following questions for inspiration writing this section: What about the employee’s work ethic do you appreciate? Why do you value your talents? These questions will help you explain to your future employee why they will be an asset to the company and how you will reward them for their hard work and dedication."

 

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exaqueo is a human resources consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to grow in the right way.

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Talent and HR News Roundup: Supporting Your Employees Edition

Last week we talked about the oft-overlooked yet major necessity in startup and high-growth companies: employee feedback. This week, we're taking that a step further. Feedback is just the baseline requirement with your employees. You also owe them some support, coaching and development along the way.  That's not to say they shouldn't take ownership of their own careers and development. They should. But you need to show them how.  Supporting your employees is part of your job even if your company is three people. This week we've rounded up some advice for you as managers and some links to pass along to your team. Feedback is the beginning, follow-through, learning, growth and development is another.

For your team:

1) Four Ways to Advance Your Career at a Startup at The Daily Muse

"At a start-up, there’s always way more to do than people to get it done. So, think about the types of people your company would hire if the company was twice the size, choose an area that you’d like to learn about, and suggest a project to the founders. For example, if your company has talked about building out a sales team in the future and you’d love to get exposure in that area, offer to test out the viability of sales as a customer acquisition strategy. As long as you’re still performing in your core role, your manager will probably be happy to have the extra help—and you’ll have the chance to build out a new skill set."

2) Why Your Boss Still Hasn't Promoted You at The Fast Track

"Do you take feedback well, or get huffy and pout or gripe about any criticism? You’ve got to develop thicker skin the higher you go on the career ladder, so an inability to accept feedback professionally could be sending the message you’re immature and not ready to play with the big kids."

For you:

3) Managing with Empathy at Medium

"As you might imagine, the work days at Obama for America (the president’s 2012 reëlection campaign) were long, with good reason. But it takes its toll on people over time. My colleague Lauren Peterson came up with the idea of guaranteeing folks two nights each week that, no matter what, they’d be out the door by 8 p.m. We quickly adopted this on my team and referred to it as “time to do human things”. A few people asked me if they could come in at noon instead. That let them pay bills, buy groceries or just get some much needed sleep. The “in by noon” option quickly became the more popular choice."

4) How to Write a Love Letter to Your Future Startup Employee at Tech Cocktail

"... explain how you will show employees how your startup values their talent, work ethic, and dedication. Consider the following questions for inspiration writing this section: What about the employee’s work ethic do you appreciate? Why do you value your talents? These questions will help you explain to your future employee why they will be an asset to the company and how you will reward them for their hard work and dedication."

 

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exaqueo is a human resources consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to grow in the right way.

Comment

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Talent and HR News Roundup: Supporting Your Employees Edition

Last week we talked about the oft-overlooked yet major necessity in startup and high-growth companies: employee feedback. This week, we're taking that a step further. Feedback is just the baseline requirement with your employees. You also owe them some support, coaching and development along the way.  That's not to say they shouldn't take ownership of their own careers and development. They should. But you need to show them how.  Supporting your employees is part of your job even if your company is three people. This week we've rounded up some advice for you as managers and some links to pass along to your team. Feedback is the beginning, follow-through, learning, growth and development is another.

For your team:

1) Four Ways to Advance Your Career at a Startup at The Daily Muse

"At a start-up, there’s always way more to do than people to get it done. So, think about the types of people your company would hire if the company was twice the size, choose an area that you’d like to learn about, and suggest a project to the founders. For example, if your company has talked about building out a sales team in the future and you’d love to get exposure in that area, offer to test out the viability of sales as a customer acquisition strategy. As long as you’re still performing in your core role, your manager will probably be happy to have the extra help—and you’ll have the chance to build out a new skill set."

2) Why Your Boss Still Hasn't Promoted You at The Fast Track

"Do you take feedback well, or get huffy and pout or gripe about any criticism? You’ve got to develop thicker skin the higher you go on the career ladder, so an inability to accept feedback professionally could be sending the message you’re immature and not ready to play with the big kids."

For you:

3) Managing with Empathy at Medium

"As you might imagine, the work days at Obama for America (the president’s 2012 reëlection campaign) were long, with good reason. But it takes its toll on people over time. My colleague Lauren Peterson came up with the idea of guaranteeing folks two nights each week that, no matter what, they’d be out the door by 8 p.m. We quickly adopted this on my team and referred to it as “time to do human things”. A few people asked me if they could come in at noon instead. That let them pay bills, buy groceries or just get some much needed sleep. The “in by noon” option quickly became the more popular choice."

4) How to Write a Love Letter to Your Future Startup Employee at Tech Cocktail

"... explain how you will show employees how your startup values their talent, work ethic, and dedication. Consider the following questions for inspiration writing this section: What about the employee’s work ethic do you appreciate? Why do you value your talents? These questions will help you explain to your future employee why they will be an asset to the company and how you will reward them for their hard work and dedication."

 

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exaqueo is a human resources consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to grow in the right way.

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