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Workplace Culture

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HR and Talent News Roundup: Scaling Your Workforce Edition

As companies scale, culture and growth go hand-in-hand. This means founders and leaders have to be more and more creative about how to ensure they continue to sustain culture so it doesn't get lost in the forest of growth. This week we share multiple examples of ways you can think about scaling the talent side of your business in the right way. 1) Why Zappos CEO Hsieh Wants To Enable More Collisions In Vegas from Forbes

" "When a city doubles in size, innovation increases by 15 percent,” he says. “But when companies get bigger, productivity goes down.” To avoid that destiny as Zappos expands, he aims to organize the company “more like a city and less like a large company” with densely populated workspaces, and, when it comes to navigating them, a preference for “collisions over convenience.”

2) Small business advice: How to set your firm up for long-term, sustainable growth from The Washington Post

"Hire the right sales people for the right positions and set performance expectations early. Having a well-developed sales culture from the get-go is essential in setting the stage for incoming talent, and it will keep the existing representatives inspired for the long haul...It is much easier to maintain a good culture than fix a bad one. If your once-thriving sales culture becomes stagnant, consider adding fresh talent. Bringing in new, hungry individuals to any team can ignite productivity among existing members."

3) Supercell's CEO reveals the culture he built to produce a £2.5 billion company in 2 years from Wired

"Despite this [success], all Pannenan wants to talk about is company values, both in terms of organisational structure and "the power of small." It is a manifesto for building a better company and he is conscious the world is now listening.  "The best people make the best games," says Ilkka Paananen, founder of Finnish gaming startup Supercell. "It sounds simple and perhaps naive, but if you truly believe it then the only thing that matters is getting those people and creating the best possible environment so they stay." "

4) 4 Ways to Build On Your Company Culture from Momentum

"When you’re not a startup anymore, it can feel like company culture is something that’s already set in stone — not something you can adapt father and improve. This couldn’t be any farther from the truth. Culture can be developed and molded over time, especially with new leadership at the helm."

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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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Why We're Joining The Work Revolution

I remember when I told my father I wasn't interested in becoming a corporate vice president. He was taken aback--climbing the corporate ladder and succeeding was one of his biggest successes. And it was big--for him. Success was measured in responsibility, power and titles. And there is nothing wrong with that. Plenty of workers still find value in hitting those milestones and rightly so. But change is afoot. It's not that we no longer value these things, it's that we have reevaluated the role work plays in our lives and for some of us  the way we get value from work is different. Success may be one value, but we also value things like creativity, flexibility, patience and time.  Now we have to make the case that companies need to offer these values just as much as they sell us their vision of success.

I recently joined The Work Revolution: a movement + campaign that advocates for human and meaningful work for all.  Pioneers designing radically life-giving places to work. And that's what work should do. Give you energy--not sap it all away. Give you a reason for living, a reason to get up every day and contribute in a meaningful way.

The Work Revolution asked for my take on the movement and what matters to me and to exaqueo about work:

"Human behavior has changed and yet the way we work hasn’t changed with it. We all get value from work in different ways and if organizations don’t know and can’t adapt to different degrees of value, they’ll only find success from employees who conform to their prescribed work environments and behaviors."

Read more of my interview on The Work Revolution and join. Get onboard with the way work is evolving and figure out what you value. Then set about finding it.

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exaqueo is 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 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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Why Do You Care What's Next?

downloadIt started as early as eighth grade. Field hockey tryouts came and went, and we gathered around the team lists like crazed Madonna fans (the Bieber of my day). I was a decent athlete, and I made the A team. The season passed, and everyone wanted to know whether I was going to try to make the high school team. Ninth grade found me playing softball. At under five feet, I was the smallest girl on the team, but also the fastest. That meant a sometimes-bump to varsity as backup for second base and the designated pinch runner. Everyone asked, “Will you make varsity next year? I did. Then it was, “Will you start at varsity next year?” I was cut. I’d been good enough to play varsity my freshman and sophomore years, but too many bigger, stronger girls rose through the ranks.

It was embarrassing — not even because I didn’t make it, but because everyone kept asking what the next milestone was. I was out of milestones. We’re so achievement-oriented, we can’t handle defeat (let alone appreciate the moment we’re in). I’ve learned that it hasn’t gotten better as I’ve gotten older, either.

Everyone wants to know where you’re headed next.

Fast-forward to college. I was constantly asked about my post-graduation plans. Same with graduate school. And my personal life? That was even worse. My husband and I dated for seven years before we got married. It made people crazy that we dated for so long. I know, because many told me so.

But what made me crazy was the constant questioning about our engagement timeline. And that was just the beginning. Now that we are married, people want to know when we’re having children. (For my friends already blessed with children, it’s: “When are you having another?”)

This phenomenon isn’t limited to our personal lives. 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. No one stops to ask how you’re doing in the moment or what interesting work you’re accomplishing. And the repercussions of this what-next syndrome? We’ve forgotten how to mine the moment for what it is: a chance to appreciate the good and learn from the bad.

Study after study show that Millennials want to be promoted quickly. They expect raises and conversations about what’s next on a regular basis. And they’re not to blame for that attitude. We are (their managers, leaders, GenX-ers and Baby Boomers who have come before them). Instead of focusing on the best lesson an employee learned this year in performance reviews, we have conversations primarily focused on getting to the next level. Instead of asking someone what cool thing they’re working on right now, we ask them what job they want next....

Read the rest of this post over on Forbes.com.

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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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Culture Defined: Client Q&A with ORS Partners

photo3Every startup knows that culture is important, but it often takes a pivotal moment, challenge or obstacle for founders and leadership teams to realize it's time to focus.  We're so busy shipping code, getting product out the door or sourcing new customers we forget that it's people building the business. We love helping clients come to this realization, and ORS Partners was no different.  An outsourced recruiting solutions firm based outside Philadelphia, PA, ORS has energized employees and a strong growth trajectory. But they had the moment--the realization that if they didn't harness the energy now, their growth wouldn't happen in an aligned, bottom-line-driving way.

I sat down with exaqueo client Kate Brewer, ORS Partners' Marketing Manager to talk about why they decided to finally focus on culture and the results of their business-changing process.

Susan LaMotte, exaqueo: What was the driver for a renewed focus on culture at ORS Partners?

Kate Brewer, ORS: Eighteen months into our existence as a company, we were – are – growing rapidly and onboarding new people every month, but needed to define who we are and what our mission is. We had been “running and gunning” as a start-up organization, but needed to take a step back as a leadership team and make sure our employees knew what direction we are headed. We had to put clarity around our business and what we stand for.

SL: When you made the effort to understand and strengthen your culture, what was your biggest learning?

KB: Our leadership team realized that we all understood and we could articulate our Mission, Vision, and Values, but we failed to communicate them effectively to our team. We knew our employees possessed all the qualities needed for success, but we realized we needed to better communicate the larger plan to make sure every employee felt engaged and empowered to do so. With a clear Mission, Vision, and set Values we are able to articulate our goals and tie all of our initiatives back to our core values.

SL: You're in the business of helping others hire. What have you learned about the importance of culture that you can apply to the work you do for your clients? 

KB: Culture-fit is everything. No matter how many credentials a candidate may have, if they do not mesh with company culture, they will not be successful long-term. We have always preached to our clients that they hire ORS to not hire candidates, just as much as they hire ORS to hire candidates. Our consultants are trained to identify culture-fit – one of first steps in client onboarding is for our consultants to learn and understand client culture and assimilate.

SL: ORS will continue to grow in the coming year. As you do your own hiring, based on what you learned, what kind of employees are most successful in the ORS culture?

KB: Through this exercise we have found that our employees are self-motivated individuals who thrive on watching their client companies achieve talent acquisition success with their support. Even more so, ORS employees are team players – we are not recruiters on an island, but members of a large team backed by leadership and account management, a strong sourcing center, an employee led learning and development platform, and a toolkit of resources and technologies that help us reach success more efficiently and effectively.

SL: How does culture fit affect recruiting? Now that you've defined the ORS culture more clearly, how will that enable you to hire more effectively?

KB: As all good professionals in our industry know, recruiting is more than matching a candidate’s skillset to a job description. ORS Partners recruitment consultants are helping clients attract the right talent that will help their businesses grow and develop. Essentially, ORS Partners is a company building business… and without understanding culture fit, we would not be able help take our client companies to the next level with the addition of human capital. Businesses succeed when the right group of people with the right personalities and right skills work together to create products, services, and solutions. Now that we have defined our own culture more clearly, we believe we will be able to hire the right group of people with the right skills – with personalities and goals that complement the organization’s characteristics and goals – to take our business to the next level.

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exaqueo is a workforce 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 scale the right way.

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ORS Partners, LLC is a provider of Outsourced Recruiting Solutions (ORS), and is comprised of top professional recruiters hired to build and scale emerging growth, middle-market, and venture-backed companies along with Fortune 1000 companies.

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Four Reasons Perks Won't Help Your Culture or Hiring

4 Reasons Perks Won't WorkToo often I hear company leaders or recruiters say things like: "Our culture is great. We have free lunches, you can bring your dog to work, and there's free beer every day at 5pm." Workplace culture does not equal perks.

Perks aren't culture. Even ridiculous perks.  Culture is culture.

Culture is the way in which you work--the norms and values that define who you are as a business and what makes you different. It's how you get work done and the way people are expected to behave.  Culture is your foundation and then your build your business around it--including perks.

Here are four reasons you shouldn't confuse perks and culture:

1) Perks Are False Promises

If you just focus on perks, it's like promising a gorgeous engagement ring--without meeting the guy. If the guy sucks, the ring is only sparkly for so long. Then you get tired of it. No one stays at a company for the perks. They stay for their boss, the product, the potential, the work. Why waste time luring people in only to lose them after the fourth date (week)?

2) Perks Can Blow Up In Your Face

Sure, dogs in the office are cool. But what if that new developer you're trying desperately to hire is allergic? Think about the ridiculousness of that conversation: "We'd love to give you an offer, but we typically have dogs in the office so this isn't going to work." Really? You'll give up a great candidate for that?

3) You Don't Want a Candidate to Make a Decision Based on Perks

When you get that fantastic candidate to fill the void on your sales team, do you really want him to take the offer based on free beer? No. You want him to be passionate about what he's selling, the team behind the product or service and the future of the business.

4) Perks Don't Make Your Employees Perform Better

Free drycleaning or a easy-access gym might make employees' lives easier, but it won't turn an average developer into a stellar one. Culture, values and work rules are much better at vetting out candidates who won't perform well in your environment. For example, one candidate might be a Ruby rockstar but she can't get used to your super-fast product development cycles or deal with the complete transparency that's part of the way you do business

Should you ignore perks? No--they're important rewards and incentives to your business. Just don't hang your culture and hiring hat on them. Otherwise you build a company based on fringe benefits instead of on values.

And when you create perks for your business, tie them to your culture first. If one of your core values is customer service, perks should be designed to make it easier to service customers (making it quieter, freeing up your time, or giving you a budget to spend to develop relationships with customers).

Don't want to give up on perks? Don't. Just make sure your culture, values and work rules are strong. And sell those first.

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exaqueo is a workforce 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 scale the right way.

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Work Rules: What They Are and Why You Need Them

Work Rules: What They Are and Why You Need ThemEvery company wants to be cool in some way -- more specifically, be known for something: a great place to work, a cool thing to be part of, a place people brag about joining. That's where the values come in. Whether valuable or not (pun intended), core values are the hot topic when it comes to culture. You have to have them. And whether you're Toms Shoes, Whole Foods or Teach for America, your values set the stage for your business.

While values and culture creation is the first step, it's not the most important. Enter work rules.

What Are Work Rules?

"Work rules" is a term we've developed here at exaqueo. Work rules are a way to make what a company values real and hold employees accountable. You can have the best list of core values ever, but if you don't hold employees accountable and align the way you do business to them, they don't mean anything.

Here's how it works:

Take one of Whole Foods' core values: "supporting team member excellence and happiness." Sounds good, right? But what exactly does that mean? How is that manifested in the day to day operations of a Whole Foods store?

It could mean personal support -- doing right by each other when it comes to learning and development, lots of time off, special dispensation for family needs, stipends for personal interests. Or, it could be about the business -- supporting team members who need help stocking shelves or find themselves overwhelmed with a line of customers at customer service.

You Have to Define Your Values

Specifically, what do they look like in practice? And at Whole Foods, this particular value is focused more on workplace happiness than happiness outside of work.

Nothing wrong with that -- in fact, their clarity is commendable. As an current or future employee it's clear what they mean by happiness. I can expect very fair wages. I shouldn't expect extra time off.

Another example of a value many companies might have is "customer service." But what kind of customer service is valued?

That's where work rules come in.  Maybe the focus is on deep customer relationships and problem solving. Or it could be about fast service, getting customers served efficiently and correctly. Either way, work rules help you better define what great performance looks like in your organization, and that makes hiring and performance management better. And it helps your company stay focused.

If you're wondering if it's worth it, if there's real, monetary value in this, let me know. I'll send you a real-world example from one of our clients.

If you need the motivation to get started, ask yourself how important talent is to growth.

There's your answer.

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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Startup Company Culture: What is It?

Startup Company Culture: What is It?Slides. Ping pong. Work from home. No offices. Free beer.  This is how we often describe startup company cultures. Descriptive nouns often hiding what they really are -- benefits or perks; cool stuff we get. THIS does not a company culture make. Founders are always asking me how to create culture. And entrepreneurs are always writing about it. But no one's actually ever defined it. What is startup company culture? Want a culture that sustains? Want to built a culture that impacts your business? Don't start with perks.

Start with a Few History Lessons Instead

Culture has existed as long as America itself and our nation building efforts. We weren’t one nation—we were, in fact, eleven regional nations from east to west competing for land, allegiance and superiority. We know how the story went: resulting in our Declaration for Independence. But what’s hidden in that story are the cultures—how they form and why they sustain.

Once-upon-a-time startups Zappos, Hubspot and Netflix have made company culture popular. They’ve created manifestos, preached core values and shown that culture actually impacts business.  But cultures don’t just happen.  The same regional nations that eventually became the United States we know today had specific cultural attributes that defined who they were and why they lasted.

If You Want Your Startup to Last, You Need Some Key Attributes of Company Culture Too

1) Clarity

Strong cultures have clear values that are easily defined.  And those definitions are both consistent and known by everyone who is a part of the culture.  The modern day Tea Party is a perfect example of this—whether you agree with them or not they are exceptionally clear about what they stand for and owe the rise in their movement to this.

2) Rules

It’s one thing to have values and define what you stand for. But strong cultures also have rules and hold members of the tribe accountable to those rules. The El Norte culture occupying much of the Southwest in the 1600s and beyond followed a Spanish tradition of crucifying one of their own each year for Lent. As horrific as it sounds, it was a part of the Spanish culture they were trying to maintain in the Americas and they followed it religiously.

3) Potential

Culture requires vision. Today’s American Indian tribes are united in their culture and preserving tradition. But that’s not enough to keep them sustained. For cultures to survive there has to be potential, a continued vision for growth and prosperity -- which is why casinos and other business ventures are so important and can make or break a tribe.

4) Respect

Leaders have to live and model the culture. When John Smith first arrived in Jamestown, he had the colonists work in the field for six hours each day. They hated this and it led to the demise of the culture. They didn’t respect their leader and turned on him and each other when things got bad.

5) Belonging

Without a sense of pride in membership, culture means nothing.  Just consider the Fourth of July. The fireworks, the flags, the feeling of being a part of something and claiming membership to something not everyone can—that’s culture.

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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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