Each week our team gathers interesting news and thought-provoking articles from around the web (and through our internal Slack channel) to send out through the People Geekly newsletter. The amount of people subscribed to the People Geekly has more than doubled in the past six months, and the interest in people and culture related reads has grown along with it.
Each week a new topic resonates; sometimes it's an article about company values, leadership, diversity, or even gifs (See Issue #61 in March). As we've just passed the six month mark, we've compiled a list of top articles from each People Geekly issue from January to June.
If you like what you see, subscribe to the People Geekly newsletter for your weekly dose of people geek reading.
Issue #53: January 5, 2016
Ping Pong Won't Solve Your Culture Problem (1.5 Min)
Just because a company has a ping-pong table or a shiny new webpage, doesn’t mean they have a good company culture. If you’re planning to do some cultural reorganization, there are some questions you can ask yourself as you get started: How is your onboarding? Do people feel trusted? Do people have to compete for resources? Do people feel they are spending more time defending their position in the company than actually working? Would social activities happen organically within your company without mandate?
Issue #54: January 12, 2016
To Motivate Employees, Do 3 Things Well (4.5 Min)
Employee engagement in U.S. companies is low, according to a recent poll. Seventy percent are not engaged and employers are scrambling to keep people interested. The Harvard Business Review suggests these three things: Inspiration - No matter what your company does, employees need to feel what they do has value. Kindness - Companionship and recognition go farther with humans than salary sometimes. Self-care - It is important to not only offer wellness programs to employees, but allow them to have the time and means to use them.
Issue #55: January 19, 2016
Do You Have To Love What You Do? (3 Min)
Jason Fried of Basecamp asks, "Do you have to love what you do?” There are plenty of quotes and advice out there suggesting the path to success is working on something you love. Here Fried presents his counterpoint. He argues that to do something innovative, you might need to work on something you don't love, perhaps even hate – Fried argues the passion comes from making things better.
Issue #56: January 26, 2016
Letting People Go (4.5 Min)
Letting people go is never easy for anyone. But there are some things a manager can do to make it as painless as possible. CEO Maren Kate Donovan talks about the fall of Zirtual, and Jason Freeman, Co-founder of 42Floors also discusses his decision, preparation and ultimately process of letting his people go. Chris Misken of Demand Media offers several steps to help make the unpleasant task a little easier, especially in a smaller company where people are not just coworkers, but also friends.
Issue #57: February 2, 2016
The Collaboration Curse (3 Min)
Many of our decisions and tactics are used to encourage and increase collaboration between employees. This article presents the classic example of this in the open plan office. Has the focus on collaboration gone too far? Many forms of collaboration can lead to constant interruptions, which detracts from complex tasks. Plus we’re all probably aware of the time and energy that goes into meetings and emails. So what’s the solution? Being explicit and starting to measure the right things is a good start.
Issue #58: February 9, 2016
Facebook's HR Chief Explains How The Company Does Performance Reviews (2.5 Min)
Facebook conducts a performance review every six months, but these sessions aren’t evaluations so much as checkpoints. The sessions are used to seek out exceptional employees, not so much to fire underperforming ones. The company believes if someone is underperforming, they would have been dealt with prior to the review. Facebook uses a internal software to keep everyone on the same page, give each other feedback, and acknowledge jobs well done. Employees are also asked to evaluate themselves. After data is collected, managers of teams that work together discuss the findings.
Issue #59: February 16, 2016
7 Rules for Job Interview Questions That Result in Great Hires (5 Min)
In this age of easily accessed information, there are rarely cases when you can pop a surprise question on an interview candidate. Sites like Glassdoor will likely have your secret interviewing techniques as tips for your applicants. So what can you ask a potential future employee to make sure he or she is the right person for the job? John Sullivan of the Harvard Business Review offers these seven ideas for interviewing: Avoid easy to practice questions; Be wary of historical questions; Access the candidate’s ability to solve a problem; Evaluate if they are forward-thinking; Access a candidate’s ability to learn, adapt and innovate; Avoid duplication; Allocate time for selling.
Issue #60: February 23, 2016
The Relationship Between Corporate Culture and Performance (2.5 Min)
A recent study found that a company’s positive culture can help its bottom line, but not vice versa. In other words, a company’s financial success does not always mean that it will have a positive culture; in fact, the researchers found that even if the company succeeds for a time, it will likely begin to fail if it doesn’t have a positive work culture. Dr. Michael Gillespie, one of the researchers on the study, says even though it’s harder for larger companies to make culture change, it's still important to do. “Culture change today is at the heart of winning because it’s so difficult for [other] employers to copy,” he says.
Issue #61: March 1, 2016
An Unforgettable Welcome For Your New Hire (2.5 Min)
At Lever, they like to get excited about new hires. The team wants every new person to understand just how welcome, and appreciated they are. So they have a rather unique way of welcoming new people to the company - they use animated gifs. When a new hire has signed their paperwork, a manager will either yell out or announce in Slack that it’s “gif time!” “We have so. much. fun. creating these GIFs,” says Jennifer Kim of Lever. From there, the team gathers to work out a short (sometimes choreographed) video which is in turn, converted into an exciting animated gif that is sent to the new person. The result is a much better way to express their excitement than just simply sending out an email.
Issue #62: March 8, 2016
The Power of Core Values (4 Min)
Bastian Lehmann, Co-founder and CEO of Postmates, discusses the importance of a company’s core values. “Building a company is often a balance between short term decision making and long term strategic thinking,” says Lehmann. The earlier the values are set in your company, the better. These are things that reach all parts of your company and customers. From the hiring process, to product to scaling, core values guide everyone involved.
Issue #63: March 15, 2016
Thoughts on Gender and Radical Candor (26 Min)
As the co-founder and CEO of Radical Candor, Kim Scott has introduced a framework of giving feedback in the workplace. Aptly named “radical candor” it is described as “the ability to give feedback in a way that challenges people directly, and at the same time shows you care about them personally.” Included in the framework that produced radical candor are three other feedback styles: ruinous empathy, manipulative insincerity, and obnoxious aggression, all explained in detail. This article explores how gender bias and gender politics affect different methods of feedback within the model, especially radical candor. Scott provides a discussion around why gender bias makes radical candor harder for both men and women and includes practical tips on how to understand and overcome such bias.
Issue #64: March 22, 2016
4 Signs You Have a Toxic Company Culture (7 Min)
Forbes contributor William Vanderbloemen shares four signs he’s learned to spot that may be causing a toxic company culture. He says rapid growth may be the root of much toxicity. He suggests being extra cautious of your culture as you grow, which may include assigning someone as the cultural value auditor. Another sign is when no one talks about company problems. He suggests if no one is talking about issues, there is a good chance people don’t feel valued enough to think their problems matter. On the flip side, another sign is if everyone is talking about problems. Gossip is a culture killer. Finally, if the system becomes more important than the mission, you have a toxic culture.
Issue #65: March 29, 2016
The Process Myth (8 Min)
Following a discussion on why engineers hate bad process, Medium author, rands, explains how good process can be beneficial to a company’s culture. When your team is small, process is not needed because everyone knows each other and feels equally responsible for the company. As the team grows you form two camps: the old guard (exemplify company values, longer-term employees) and the new guard (new employees who are confused about the company culture). To unite these two camps and grow in a positive direction, rands says, “Process should be written by those who are not only intimately experiencing the pain of a lack of process, but who are also experts in the culture.”
Issue #66: April 5, 2016
Does a Fancy Office Mean Happier Employees? (4 Min)
Exploring how the physical spaces in which we work can reflect our workplace culture, this article focuses on Facebook, Airbnb, and Ademco Security Group as examples. While Facebook and Airbnb take the time to design their workspaces to reflect their values, Ademco has chosen to spend that money on company outings. The pros and cons of each company’s choice are discussed.
Issue #67: April 12, 2016
All Anyone Really Wants at Work is Autonomy (3.5 Min)
A recent study involving more than 2,000 people across three continents, and including researchers from the University of Cologne, the University of Groningen and Columbia University, found that people overwhelmingly preferred autonomy at the workplace over power. The experiments had people imagine job situations where they compared having more freedom, but less power vs having more power (like leading a team) but less chance to do what they want. The experiment however did not take into consideration compensation. It is assumed that people might more likely take the power move over autonomy if there was cash involved, however more research is needed.
Issue #68: April 19, 2016
Can You Bring Your "Whole Self" To the Workplace? (7 Min)
We explore the "whole self" concept, defined as bringing all components of what makes you, “you” to the workplace. From asking pointed questions in an interview to a company that interviews family members, we look at how to be your whole self from the beginning. However, that's only half of the story. We also explore how workplaces allow for an environment in which employees are comfortable to express themselves.
Issue #69: April 26, 2016
Mindfulness in the Workplace (7 Min)
We’ve heard the term tossed around a lot, but what does mindfulness really mean? According to executive coach, leadership development specialist, and psychiatrist, David Brendel, mindfulness is "a mental orientation and set of strategies for focusing one’s mind on here-and-now experiences." We take a look at how this concept has changed to fit the workplace and how companies can best put it into practice.
Issue #70: May 3, 2016
HR Reinvented: The New People Teams (6 Min)
Maia Josebachvili, VP of People at Greenhouse, thinks about the idea of “People” a lot. She cites three trends that are causing the field of HR to become recognized as People Operations: “The digital revolution has elevated the value of people to an organization, power has shifted from companies to people and strong employee engagement and company culture have become a competitive advantage.” She introduces the concept of the new people team by comparing past and present objectives of this business function.
Issue #71: May 10, 2016
Four Myths About Company Culture And Staff Retention Debunked (2 Min)
This Smart Company article cites research published in Culture Amp’s 2016 New Tech Benchmark Report, that debunks some common company culture myths. Myth 1: People leave managers, not companies; research shows that company leadership has more of an impact on an employee than their direct manager. Myth 2. Millennials are negative and unreliable; research in the report shows millennials “across the board, are no more negative than the other generations.“ Myth 3. Perks make people happy; the reports finds that perks don’t encourage engagement nearly as much as other things, such as trust and company goals. Myth 4. Businesses keep employees by paying them more; Culture Amp Chief Scientist Jason McPherson says pay checks also don’t play into employee engagement “unless it gets really out of whack with the market, that’s when it does show up.”
Issue #72: May 24, 2016
France Might Pass A Law That Makes It Illegal To Send After-Hours Work Emails (3 Min)
France recently passed a bill in its lower parliamentary house that would make it illegal for companies of 50 or more, to send emails after work hours. The country has recognized that after-work emails, texts, etc can cause stress levels to escalate. "All the studies show there is far more work-related stress today than there used to be and that the stress is constant," Benoit Hamon, a Socialist member of parliament, told the BBC. "The texts, the messages, the emails -- they colonize the life of the individual to the point where he or she eventually breaks down." The bill will next be reviewed by the French senate and then to the National Assembly before it is made into law.
Issue #73: May 31, 2016
Debugging Recruiting (3 Min)
Dan Portillo, Talent Partner at Greylock, shares the slides from his talk on the recruiting. This talk highlights the common mistakes he sees being made by companies in their recruitment process. He writes up some of the "bugs" he sees in the sourcing, evaluation and conversion stages. Also included is his offer checklist and recommended hiring process.
Issue #74: June 7, 2016
The Future of Work in 5 Charts (2 Min)
Sarah Cooper of The Cooper Review gives us five humorous charts on topics like why middle managers are called middle managers, meetings and email. On the latter she says, “As meetings grow longer and longer, workers will look to email to follow up on conversations, that will then be needed to be taken back to a meeting” - it’s a vicious (yet laughable) cycle.
Issue #75: June 14, 2016
Career Planning in a Flat Org: How Spotify and Google Keep People Engaged (8 Min)
As companies move away from traditionally structured hierarchies into “flat” organizations, the the career ladder becomes the jungle gym. Flat orgs need to have different methods of career development to keep employees engaged. Using challenges, not promotions, as motivation is a way for employees to try something new in their role or move to another. Four more ideas along with specific techniques from Spotify and Google are discussed.
Issue #76: June 21, 2016
"Guys" No Longer An Appropriate Term For The Workplace (4 Min)
Former chief of Army David Morrison is the champion of the Words at Work Campaign, which advocates for inclusivity in workplace language. He says, “it's a proven fact that more inclusive, more diverse workforces create real diversity of thinking and are more productive.” One of the ways people can create an inclusive culture is with language - speaking and listening with respect. An informative video included with the article provides an explanation of terms that can be exclusive, prompting the viewer to think about their language at work.
Issue #77: June 28, 2016
Let's Talk About The Millennial Problem (6 Min)
Are millennials really not as engaged at work as other groups? As Hyon Chu explains, “The last few decades left them with no pensions, insufficient training in the areas they need, and the rise of the gig economy. So, it comes as a bit of a surprise that companies are left asking why they can’t keep workers around by offering ping-pong tables and free beer at the price tag of $20,000 an hour.” However, as research shows, millennials aren’t actually leaving their jobs at a higher rate than other generations.