The People Geekly
10 min read

26 Most popular People Geekly newsletter articles of 2017 (so far)

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Alexis Croswell

Senior Content Marketing Manager, Culture Amp

Last year, we celebrated 100 issues of The People Geekly newsletter, and we're excited to continue sharing #peoplegeek news with people around the world. Curating The People Geekly is something I look forward to each week (especially when I get to read about performance reviews for cats) and it's truly a team effort. CAmpers across Culture Amp contribute stories that they find interesting, and our community sends in articles as well. 

The top 26 includes some of the usual suspects - humorous articles, and stories about company culture often rise to the top. This year we've also seen an interest in how performance reviews are changing, and the importance of team effectiveness at work. 

Take a look at our most popular articles of 2017 so far, and if you're not yet subscribed, join The People Geekly to start receiving the best HR-related content from across the web, and straight from Culture Amp. 


Etsy's culture: the maker spirit (3 mins)
Brian Christman, SVP of People and Workplace at Etsy and Jennifer McKaig, Culture and Engagement Program Manager at Etsy shared with us what makes their culture unique. The learning and development team plays a big role in helping to keep the maker spirit alive. Christman says, “I think that people feel very empowered to learn and grow at all levels within the company.” He also speaks to how Etsy is addressing big topics facing all companies today, like diversity and inclusion.

Performance reviews, for cats (4 mins)
This humorous guide to giving your cat a performance review comes from Thryn, a Sr. Interaction Designer at Google. It’s filled with gems such as, “You should be having regular individual 1:1s with your cats. Any negative feedback should be given privately so as not to embarrass or shame one cat in front of the group.” Many of the tips Thryn gives, while directed at our feline friends, aren’t bad advice for performance reviews between people. If this article inspires you to learn more about how to give feedback, we have another excellent resource for you.

Mentoring and inspiring managers (2.5 mins)
When it comes to seeing success as a manager, Rob Cahill says, “I can attest that successful managers view every interaction as an opportunity to learn and define who they want to be as a boss.” In the final article in his five-part series on the demands new managers face and how HR can help, he highlights the people behind successful managers. These people and inspirations include: managers, direct reports, parents and extracurriculars.

Making a successful people analytics team (12 mins)
People analytics leader David Green shares 16 characteristics of organizations with successful people analytics programs. First on the list - they focus on projects that matter to the business. “Don’t waste time developing a model to predict attrition if it isn’t a problem for your company. Learn the business, find out what matters to your CEO and senior leaders,” says Green. Other characteristics include: a fully involved CHRO, knowing how to leverage outside resources and having a clear strategy. While all 16 characteristics don’t have to be in place to start a team, says Green, aiming for them over time will make the team more successful.

Using employee engagement pulse surveys (4.5 mins)
Gathering employee feedback through surveys can be exciting. Survey data helps inform decision making processes and gives employees a collective voice. Because of this, it can be tempting to survey continuously, or use many pulse surveys to gather more data. However, that might not be the best solution. Culture Amp’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Jason McPherson explains why. He says, “Based on what we’ve seen, 90% of companies using continuous surveys can’t keep their response rates above 50% when the same people are being surveyed weekly or monthly.” We explain why survey fatigue matters and walk through an example survey cadence, explaining the effective use of pulse surveys.


Creating an exciting onboarding kit (6 mins)
Katie Brioux, a Graphic Designer and Department Ambassador at Breather gives a step by step overview of how they designed a welcome kit for new employees. Their onboarding process follows these three ideas: high quality welcome, educate to inspire and powerful swag. Brioux says, “Researching swag and welcome kits is not just about finding the best or cheapest branded water bottles and stickers, but about how the items in the kit can become a strong mix of the above [ideas], and have a more everlasting and positive impact on the new hire.” See kits that Brioux and her team used for inspiration up to the final kit new hires receive at Breather.

13 companies recognized as best employers (6 mins)
Every year we see a mix of familiar names featured on ‘best employer’ lists, along with a new batch of companies. Earning a spot on any of these lists generally brings positive recognition to your employer brand. This article showcases 13 organizations that have made it to the top of different lists (and some that have made it many times). We’ll explore what makes them special and what each award highlights about companies.

Should offices be designed like bars? (7 mins)
According to designer Daniel Krivens, it’s not (just) alcohol that facilitates conversations in bars, but rather the eye-to-eye, face-to-face connections that the space encourages. Krivens says these types of conversations are the foundation for finding common ground, trust, and encouraging the flow of ideas. But, most offices are a division between people sitting, standing, and walking. The solution? Designing offices around ‘collision moments’ where people meet each other during the day balanced with the right amount of seclusion.

The best HR idea I ever stole (3  mins) 
Our CEO, Didier Elzinga, shares why he has upfront conversations with candidates about their future career goals - yes, even when they don't involve life-long employment at Culture Amp. As he says, "It’s an amazing experience – as soon as you ask the question you can see the voice inside their head saying, 'Hang on, aren’t we meant to pretend I’m going to work here forever?'” Learn why he does it and how it impacts the culture of Culture Amp. 


10 ways good managers show they care (5 mins)
When people feel cared for by their manager, it makes a difference. Whether it’s a simple card sent to someone when they’re off work for an illness, or a manager taking the time to learn about a team member’s true career goals. Good managers show employees they care in ways that are big and small. With examples from Culture Amp customers and our own Insights team, we provide 10 ways good managers show they care about their team.

How good managers become great coaches (3 mins)
Managers who can integrate coaching skills into their interactions with team members are more effective. Coaches are adept at helping people develop in their careers while also looking out for the success of the team. We explore four ways for managers to become great coaches. For example, use one-on-one meetings for development by incorporating open-ended questions and a balance of personal discussion and team goals. Good coaches also encourage team members to problem solve proactively, rather than presenting ready-made solutions.

How important is it for employees to belong? (2 mins)
A new report released from Culture Amp drawing on insights from Culture Amp and Paradigm’s Inclusion survey, suggests that belonging is important to people at work. Belonging is not a new idea in diversity and inclusion, but we’ve explored how it impacts employee engagement. The New Technology Industry Diversity and Inclusion Report 2017 presents seven key findings based on this new research.

Employee engagement behaviors (3 mins)
Culture Amp Insights Strategist, Fresia Jackson, describes three ways we can recognize employee engagement behaviors. To truly understand the underlying motivations of employee engagement, it’s important to collect data. However, having the ability to see engagement behaviors in people’s day to day actions gives you a well-rounded view of employee engagement. For example, employees who are engaged behave opposite to someone who is experiencing burnout.


Figuring out personal development (3 mins)
Former Google career coach, Jenny Blake, shares four ways you can develop personally and professionally. Most broadly, Blake suggests using a mind map to visualize your interests and create goals. She shares how to tackle this exercise in an interactive video. Blake encourages people to use personal or work projects to fuel a passion, focus on learning new skills, and not to settle out of fear of the unknown.

How to destroy a culture of curiosity in HR (3 mins) 
Culture Amp CEO Didier Elzinga explains why a consultant-driven model of engagement surveys can hinder taking action on results quickly. "From my perspective, the biggest challenge in asking a consultant for answers is that it presupposes you know what the questions are. But that’s not always the case with people and culture," he says. Learn why Didier sees real-time analytics as the solution. 

How to handle workplace factions (26 mins)
David Loftesness and Alexander Grosse, co-authors of the book, Scaling Teams: Strategies for Building Successful Teams and Organizations, provide their expert advice on how to avoid and dismantle unhealthy workplace factions. They present five areas where companies can take action - hiring, onboarding, team transfers, technology selection, and team and office structure. As Loftesness says, “Unwinding [a cultural problem] is going to be much harder than taking a small step early on to counteract factions. You owe that to your people.”

5 people analytics strategy tips (3 mins)
Penelope Barton and Jordyn Riley from Vend’s People and Culture team share the secrets to creating a successful people analytics strategy. Find out how they use data already being collected within their organization to identify and measure opportunities for improvement.


HR Tools for building your HR Stack (7 mins)
More SaaS-based tools for HR are coming to market now than ever before. It’s exciting to have options, but how do you know what will best support your people analytics strategy? Culture Amp’s People Operations Manager, Stacey Nordwall, along with the People Team at Vend, provide advice for building and evolving your HR stack. We’ve also included a guide with a sampling of HR tools to help you get started or update your HR stack.

Talking about mental illness in the workplace (8 mins)
As someone dealing with mental health issues, Tyler Smith wants to share what it’s like to navigate these issues at work in hopes it will help others. Smith works at Atlassian, a company he says takes its values very seriously. It’s their value of 'heart and balance' which gave him the courage to share his experience with his team. Smith says, “The ‘simple’ act of trusting [my team] and being vulnerable with them had the effect of them trusting me more.” Smith shares a day in the life of someone affected by mental health issues, and how coworkers can become allies by building empathy.

The importance of wasting time (3 mins)
Achieving inbox zero or checking off a list of tasks may give us a sense of accomplishment at work, but are we giving ourselves enough time away from it all? Michael Guttridge, a psychologist who focuses on workplace behavior, says, “Taking time to be totally, gloriously, proudly unproductive will ultimately make you better at your job.” Time away from our screens and devices recharges our mental capacity and gives us room to be more focused when we return.

Do you know these 3 modern HR practices? (4 mins)
Keeping up with the latest practices in the ever-evolving field of Human Resources can be difficult. Three modern HR practices that we’ve seen in successful organizations are a focus on empathy, using people data, and turning data analysis into a practical strategy. Learn more about these three practices, including helpful tips for each - like creating feedback loops - in the full article.

Introducing the team effectiveness survey (2 mins)
As companies move away from traditional hierarchies into flatter, team-based organizations, the workplace has changed. Adaptable and collaborative teams are now at the center of modern organizations. To help these teams grow and work together, Culture Amp has created the team effectiveness survey. This new survey uses inward feedback to help teams understand how productivity, cohesion, and alignment are driving their overall success. Learn what makes our survey different and how it works.


Tools for collaboration across time zones (4 mins)
Globally distributed teams have become the norm, but that doesn’t mean there's a one-size-fits-all solution to making it work. A whole host of communication and collaboration tools exist to help people work together across time zones. Culture Amp’s own People Operations manager, Stacey Nordwall, shares some of the tools we use and what we’ve learned working as a global fast-growth company.

5 movies I think every leader must watch (6 mins) 
Our CEO, Didier Elzinga, has a background in Hollywood (his previous company won a technical academy achievement award!). There are five stories that he recommends for every leader - Hero, Wall Street, Rob Roy, Baraka and the Hero with a Thousand Faces. See what he's learned from each one. 

How to be ruthless with your time (5 mins)
Recently a memo from talk-show host Steve Harvey to his team was leaked to the press. In the note, Harvey asks his staff to leave him alone and respect his time. While the memo went viral for its harsh tone, our friends at LifeLabs Learning know that it is essential to share your time-management needs with your colleagues. “The key,” says Roi Ben-Yehuda, “is to be ruthless with your time without being ruthless with your team.” Ben-Yehuda offers eight ways communicate effectively at work, including setting aside “dark time” when people are not expected to be available.

A performance review revolution (4 mins)
Nobody likes performance reviews, but what's the solution? Some companies have chosen to completely toss the system out, but others are looking for a more middle-ground option. We look at the five ways performance reviews are broken (i.e. an infrequent coaching cadence that doesn’t match modern needs) and six steps to more effective performance reviews, like a formalized coaching cadence.

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