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Leadership

EPISODE

24

Best Leadership Insights 2023 (Part 2)

Best Leadership Insights 2023 (Part 2)

Welcome back to the second part of this year's Holiday Special.

In our previous episode, we had perceptive clips with former Chief People Officer Colleen McCreary from Credit Karma, Ann Le Cam from Harvard Business School and Walt Disney Animation, and the Co-Chief Creative Officers Hugo Veiga and Diego Machado of AKQA São Paulo.

In this episode, we'll feature conversations from Stanford Lecturer and Podcast Host of "Think Fast Talk Smart," Matt Abrahams, Jon Stross from Greenhouse discussing AI in HR Technology, Chief People Officer at Buzzfeed Chandler Bondan, and many other remarkable guests. Sit back, relax, and savor the thought provoking insights unearthed during these extraordinary interviews in 2023.

During a pivotal moment, Dr. Daisy Grewal, the Senior Manager of People Analytics & Research Partners at Intuit, challenged a misconception regarding organizational structures.

It's common for many companies to pursue a flattened design in the hopes of boosting agility and reducing decision-making complexities. However, Dr. Grewal defied this notion by presenting compelling evidence that contradicts the belief that "flatter is always better." Here’s the clip.

Dr. Daisy Grewal: Yeah, so one of my first projects was to answer questions about what's optimal when it comes to both manager stance and the number of direct reports a manager has. And then the number of organizational layers you have in the company, if you start with the CEO is the first there.

So like most people, before I started this project, I have heard over and over from the media and business literature, that flatter is better. And companies should be as flat as possible if they want to be innovative and quick and agile, as well as transparent. So I was actually very surprised by my own findings, which included both external research and internal research to learn that flatter isn't necessarily better. So when I looked at the data, consistently, I found that either it didn't really matter, it was a pretty small impact, or in many cases, people actually prefer more hierarchy, and they feel comfortable when there is a good amount of hierarchy in place.

That's so interesting. In your research on team size and hierarchy levels, you mentioned that the number of middle managers doesn't necessarily determine decision making speed. So can you elaborate on the factors that have a more significant influence on effective decision making within an organization?

Dr. Daisy Grewal: Yeah, what we've found and what we hear from employees mostly is that the speed of decision making is more about the decision making process than where you sit in the organization, or how big the team is that you work on.

So the things that do seem to matter related to that decision making process are, how many approvals do I have to get? How many sign offs do I need to move forward? And where are those people in the organization? What is the appetite for senior leaders in empowering the teams below them to go ahead and make decisions on their own without that senior leader input, especially for decisions that could be reversible.

And then through my research, I also found that there were things that on the surface don't seem really related, but actually make a big difference for how quickly employees can move in their day to day jobs. So one that really surprised me was the number of project managers you need to work with to get something done.

The other thing that I think helped me understand why I didn't find kind of the common perspective that flatter is better, because when you really think about most white collar workforces, there are very few of us who are spending most of our time with our direct managers, most people are not doing the same job as their manager, they're not even doing the same job as their peers.

They're spending a lot of time in cross functional teams. And so their main dependencies when it comes to moving faster tends to be people who report to other managers.

And so those connections don't show up on the organizational chart. So it's really hard to study them in sort of a traditional approach to spans and layers. And yet, those are the connections where crucial decision making processes tend to break down and make things harder for employees.

Executive focus isn't solely centered on organizational design but also encompasses the realm of AI, of course. During my attendance at the HR Tech Conference in Las Vegas this year, I engaged in conversations with several founders and executives of HR Tech companies. They provided valuable insights into their current offerings for organizations, particularly emphasizing AI's potential value within their technology. Among the compelling stories shared, co-founder Jon Stross from Greenhouse stood out. He not only shared the updates on their offerings but also provided intriguing perspectives on the future trajectory of AI in HR Technology.

Jon Stross: For me, like my previous job, you wouldn't have guessed, I would start a recruiting software company. I was Head of International General Business, a company called Baby Center is a website for new and expecting parents. And we were launching in 20 countries around the world.

So I was traveling the world building a baby website. And what we figured out was that the key thing for success wasn't about the content or the technology, it was just about the editor. If we could find the right local editor who could adapt the content, it would work. And so we had to build this system to say, how do we hire a pregnancy editor in China, and India and Brazil and Russia in all these different countries? I don't know pregnancy editors in these countries.

And so we had to build a whole system for how would we find people? How do we interview them? How do we test their skills, their local language, and then eventually hired and onboarded them. And it worked. We hired dozens and dozens of people, we built these wonderful websites to this day, years and years later, is still a very successful website, helping tons of people.

And so the learning from that was that if you can quickly predictably bring on the very best talent, you can solve most business problems. That's a huge weapon.

And so when I was working with my old friend, Dan, as a developer, who actually developed a lot of the same theories from his company he'd been doing. And we realized that when we talked to friends who were running companies, they would all say hiring is one of our biggest challenges and we'd say, so what are you doing about that? And then they would say gibberish, and we're like, No, this is really important. You need to do the things that I did a baby son, or Dan did at Lab49, and we realized, oh, there's this huge amount of value to be created.

And helping companies become great at hiring. And so the founding question of the company was, if a company decided to commit itself to be great at hiring, what software would it need? What technology would help them? And so we didn't start from the perspective of Hey, mate, yes, I want to build better ATS. We started from the perspective of as a CEO, well, what I want to help me become great? And so that was the genesis of the company.

It's an incredible story, what's on the horizon for Greenhouse?

Jon Stross: So the future well, you know, starts with our mission, our mission is to help everyone become great at hiring. And so there's a couple pieces of that. One is everyone. So that means there's lots of different types of companies that we don't serve today. So there's a part of this geographically, we're now spreading out all over the world and we are building offices in Europe. And so there's a big geographic expansion that's happening.

There's different types of companies. So historically, we sold to a lot of fast growing tech companies in Silicon Valley now we've expanded to many different types of companies beyond that - many different types of hiring beyond. And then the other big piece of it, we said become great at hiring is that not all hiring problems, or ATS problems like the bigger than that.

And so what we're finding is that there's a lot of really critical hiring problems that are bigger than what you would do in your typical ATS. And so a lot of our sourcing problems, how do I figure out what job ads to buy? How do I figure out what agencies to use? How do I figure out which sources to choose?

There's DE&I problems of like, how do I become more fair who do I mitigate bias? Right? There's downstream problem. How do I learn did the hires make actually work out and are we having great quality of hire? And so all of those are just me more problems within hiring that we think fits under the tent of our mission. And so that's kind of what guides us and what we'll keep doing.

And does AI play a role in the platform today, or in the future?

Jon Stross: Of course, yeah. So I think machine learning is something we've been working with for a while. And I think now what we're seeing is that things that seemed impossible, like four years ago that were like, oh, it'd be really hard to build have suddenly become like, really doable. And so for us, it's less about saying, How can we use AI and it's more saying, Well, what problems can we solve that AI - that we couldn't before? Right.

And so I think that there's a bunch of obvious use cases, right, the things like put an LLM inside of every textbox. So you can imagine writing job descriptions or writing interview questions. It's very helpful with that, that's great. Like, obviously, everyone's working on stuff like that. There's also other use cases, they're a little bit less obvious things like it does really good categorization.

So we're able to feed in all these different jobs from our customers and say, like, hey, actually, it turns out this job you're opening based on the job description, and the title, we think it's just like these other 1000 jobs at these other companies. And we'd have the underlying model, which we can say which jobs are similar to each other, which allows us to create really interesting benchmarks.

So it'll look like ChatGPT, but it'll actually give you some really profound insights from this corpus of data that we have. So automation things we can do, right where you, you can get to the end of the process and say, Oh, given this job description, and this person's resume and all the interview feedback we collected against them. Here's a two paragraph summary of why we're going to make this hire.

And then you send that around and you're off for approval. You know, there's lots you can do. I think that also say there's another category of AI stuff around, can you use AI to decide who to hire and make decisions between person A and person B, that I think a lot of people have a lot of nervousness about, as do we. And so I think that's an area where we research but I don't know that we're ready to put a stake in the ground and say we're doing that quite yet.

Felicia Shakiba: Seems ideal, doesn't it? Streamlining all that administrative work sounds fantastic.

However, the real challenge lies in convincing leadership to embrace new technology within the organization. It's far from effortless when you're navigating budget constraints and encountering individuals resistant to change or unwilling to step outside their comfort zones to learn something new. Brad Williams, the Head of HR Technology and People Analytics at Northwestern Mutual, tells us how he does it.

Who were you collaborating with most? How hard or difficult was it to get leadership's attention? What did that look like for you?

Brad Williams: There's a couple of things that I did a lot of lessons learned and along the way, but a lot of this was I used kind of, and this is true of a lot of arguments that I make both logic and emotional argument to the stakeholders that I'm trying to influence. And from my perspective, it starts with the top, my boss, our head of HR / CHRO, and getting his support getting his buy in. But honestly, it doesn't end there. I needed to convince my peers to convince even their teams that this was the right thing to do.

And both bringing technology and data together, but also shifting to an in-house model from an HR technology perspective. And the analogy I kind of used was, especially on bringing an in-house model to the HR Technology team was imagine we're building a house, and all of our stakeholders, the customer, the person who was getting the house built, we weren't happy. But we felt like we just needed to get the project done, we needed to get the house built.

And I had to go and convince those individuals that, hey, let's take a pause, let's go out and find the right builders, let me go do that. And I'll find the right builders, I'll find the right general contractor so that we can build the right house. And it's going to prevent all these future problems. And so that was kind of the analogy that I use as I went around and convinced because nobody, most of my peers weren't happy with the service levels they were receiving from the third party.

And part of that was third parties aren't nearly as invested, and also don't have to live with the consequences of many of their implementations, or many of their changes that they're making. If we bring those resources in house, and part of my pitch was for the same amount of money, we're going to get better outcomes where the team is going to be held more accountable, because you can follow up directly with them and say, Hey, this isn't working like you promised it would and we can fix that we can build that.

And so it was a very logic based argument to get them on board. But by no means was it easy. But once they saw the vision, and having that trust and credibility built up over the first year of my tenure here, I think sold them on making that a reality.

I love that you approached your strategy with basically how everybody makes a decision, which is either in the logic camp or the emotional camp. So covering both camps kind of assures that you're going to have some sort of influence, right? That's exciting. I love that approach. How did you approach leadership to secure their commitment to this strategic shift of transitioning from an outsourced HR tech model to an in house one?

Brad Williams:

I really started with my peer network, the folks that were going to be impacted by the work that was getting done, because I knew there was going to be a disruption along the way that we were going to have to slowly wean off our third party support, while we built and sourced our newly internal team to go out and do that work.

And even after we got those resources, there was an onboarding period where they needed to become familiar with NM with the environment with the infrastructure that we have with our strategy, our direction, and so it wasn't, you start them on day one, and it's smooth sailing thereafter, it was a bumpy road. And I went out and made sure that they were prepared for some of the challenges.

But again, keeping the vision in mind and got their buy in, got their support. And then took that to our Head of HR and said, "Look, I've got my peers supportive of this, for the same dollar investment, which I think was the big thing that he was worried about. So for the same dollar investment, we can get better outcomes, we can get things done quicker, we can get things done more efficiently.

And I've got all of my peers supported, he gave me the green light to go out and do that, again, with the understanding that the dollars needed to work itself out. So we had to go out and hire thoughtfully, and move that along, while also being aware of the spend that we had from a third party standpoint.

And there were checks along the way to make sure that we weren't veering off course, and that we were still achieving the outcomes that I promised my peer group and my peers.

Communicating with your peers and managing up is not easy, as Brad explains, but knowing how to communicate across the organization or with your teams could lead to your ability to win people over. Matt Abrahams, a Stanford Lecturer and the Podcast Host of "Think Fast, Talk Smart," who is renowned for his exceptional communication skills. During my interview with him in Episode 16, our conversation gravitated towards the colossal theme of "meetings."

Meetings hold significant cultural weight as they establish the communication norms within teams, with managers, and across different functions. Their potency lies in their ability to either propel productivity or, if inadequately structured, derail progress and consume valuable time. Matt shared a pivotal insight on transforming meetings into more productive sessions with just a few easy tips. Here’s the golden nugget of truth and productivity on how to make meetings meaningful.

Effective meetings are where a lot of the decisions happen, especially in cross functional projects. What strategies can leaders employ to ensure meetings result in clear takeaways, and actionable outcomes? And how might an organization's scale these strategies?

Matt Abrahams:

I love these questions. I think meetings are amazingly important, yet are so poorly executed.

People who spend their whole academic career studying this, I think we should all listen to what they say and do, I'm going to start at the beginning. First the purpose of the meeting needs to be very clear. And often meetings are band aids for bigger problems that exist. So there's a problem in how we implement or how we bring a product to market. What do we do, we just keep throwing meetings at them to try to fix the problem.

Get to the systemic issue at hand, make the changes, meetings are not band aids. Second, when you call a meeting, make sure you figure out who the right people are who should attend. Often we will invite more people than are needed. Third, how you name your meeting, how you invite people to your meeting really matters as well. I think the most underutilized expectation setting tool for effective meetings is the meeting invite, we slap a name on it a URL or a room location, and that's it.

You can do a lot of work in a meeting invite, you can set the agenda. If you're using specific tools, especially a virtual you're using the whiteboard or reactions, buttons, tell people put links to tutorials, so people know how to use the tools. I always put a provocative question or a challenge in my calendar invites. So when people come to the meeting, we start with that.

People don't like going to meetings, the way we start most meetings is reviewing the previous meeting. How ludicrous is that? You don't want to be here, so I'm going to remind you of the previous meeting where you didn't want to be there either. That's silly. Rather start with something engaging, keep on track, keep on time have a facilitator who might not be the leader in the room making sure that voices are heard.

If you're hybrid people who are remote their voices are being brought into the room that can lead to better time management, better focus on goals. When your meetings are done. At the end of the meeting, take a few moments to review the quality of the meeting, not rehash what was said. But what can we do to do something different or better. You know, that definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results?

We should not run our meetings that way. We should make adjustments to make them better. And then finally, in one place, post all of the actions that came out of it, if you're taking notes or minutes, post them all in one place, train people to check those out to make sure everything was captured appropriately. I'm sorry, I get very passionate about meetings. I think we waste meetings. I think meetings could be so much more effective. And you gave me permission to get up on my soapbox, so thank you.

It was truly an extraordinary privilege to have Matt on the show, undoubtedly eliciting excitement among his fanbase for his episode. However, I was keen on featuring a guest from a different geographical setting to provide a broader, global viewpoint. Matteo Turi, an accomplished CFO, Board Director, and entrepreneur, with a 28-year journey across clean technologies, joined us from London, bringing with him a wealth of experience in acquiring businesses as an investor and entrepreneur.

With a background in finance, Matteo shed light on a crucial aspect: what truly adds value to a company? Surprisingly, his focus wasn't on the product or market share but rather honed in on the significance of effective leadership.

What advice would you give to entrepreneurs looking to build their executive leadership team from scratch, to ensure that they have the right blend of skills and attitudes?

Matteo Turi: Yeah, I mean, entrepreneurs, they tend to be a very lonely figures in our society because society doesn't understand the incredible contribution they're given to us by creating jobs, by creating wealth. But the entrepreneurs themselves need more education on how they can improve their own wealth. So for entrepreneurs embarking on the younger or constructing an executive leadership team from the ground up the imperatives are really manifold.

The foremost consideration is really what I would call it and orchestration of the blend of skills, competency and attitudes. This I guess I would call it amalgamation is the bedrock upon which a leadership team's effectiveness eventually rests, it's imperative to place an emphasis on the cultivation of a diverse and complementary of real skills.

So additionally, the implementation of attitudes and comparison, I will say adaptability, definitely, passion, resilience, all these are instrumental really. And these attitudes should be really carefully aligned with the, the overarching vision and values of the company really so. And ultimately, that will position the team as a potent rubber band for organizational growth. And again, I will say this is where there is a world of extra dedication the entrepreneurs deserve to receive, when they take the risk of creating a new business, they create the risk, risk in their own money ready. And then, and by doing that, they create jobs, they create a career within the economy.

And one follow up question for you. You talked about the different types of skill sets that are critical, like the different types of roles that are critical for leadership executive team to thrive, how important is it to have someone on the executive team in a people focused role like a Chief People Officer? When does that become critical to have that executive at that level?

Matteo Turi: It's always, it's always critical, I would say. Really, when you go for organizational growth, often you find complexities related to scaling operation, and a strategic imperative of venturing into new markets really. So what I was saying before the adaptation and the diversity of the team requires really a very careful management from the human resource standpoint. The team asked to have diversity in the skill of the player, if it's a bit like any sport, you play in a sport you have the people are very good at finishing score a goal you got people are very good at defending from an attack.

Usually finance, finance stands on the defense, the the operation, the power and cents on the sort of midfield, and the commercial teams stays on the at the forefront, trying to score all opportunities. Even within those teams, those departments, there's a need for diversity of skills, diversity of inclination.

And I will say this, any entrepreneur who wants to be successful and want to really create wealth, they will do it through one of the key goal of business in my view, which is succession planning. Without succession planning, the business has very limited value without a good succession planning.
You want to have, those people are very good. As I was saying before, they are very good at coordinating. But you want to have those people who are very creative as well, who can really create the spark that will let everyone else play better, for example. And on the other hand, is somebody really focused on finishing. So that does require very strong human resource management. The more the business grows, the more it becomes complex or is the more requires that strategic so people management approach.

With succession planning, the business will generate value because it will not depend on one person or two people or three people, it will depend on a collection of people who are together working for the same goal.

And so, what is this “succession planning process” he speaks of that adds tremendous value? While I'm an ardent fan of Logan Roy on the show "Succession," episode 17 is about the real process. There’s a reason why the Chief People Officer role was never slated in that show, and it’s because without one, that’s the way succession works, or doesn’t work.

Real life succession planning allows organizations to streamline and ensure the sustained success of an entire business by identifying and nurturing future leaders. Marc Effron, President of The Strategy Group, offered an illustration of this critical process.

During our conversation, I asked him to share a real-world scenario where a company successfully implemented what callsThe Talent Production Line. Here's what he said.

Marc Effron: Sure, there are a few that come to mind, the one I like best is a large food company. And their challenge was they needed more general managers, their expansion strategy was based on we need to put more general managers into workplaces. Without them, we cannot grow.

And they did an okay job at pulling people from parts of the organization and trying to shape them into general managers. But their CEO said, I want more of these people, and I want them quickly, CHRO came to me and said, What do we do? I said, let's set up a discipline towel production line.

Let's start by saying what is a good general manager here at this company? Let's define that probably one of the most important parts of a talent production process. Are there 40 things that leaders need to do? Yes. Do I care about all those 40? No, I care about the six, five or six that really differentiate a great general manager.

So first process is let's go speak to the great general managers within this company help to understand what does differentiate great general managers, we bring some of our own knowledge as well, because we've done a lot of this work.

So let's start with what are those specifications? We went through that process? And that's relatively fast. It's three weeks, four weeks to get the specifications. And then the key question I mentioned earlier, raw materials and raw materials is normally if you have a talent review, or a succession planning process, that's where you look at all of your talent, try to figure out who can move artisan fastest?

The question was, well, we already have talent reviews in this organization, how do we use those tower views to select out General Manager candidates? The decision was, you have to be HIPO (High-Potential) already. So you need to get through this process and be considered a high potential leader. And then it's plus, we think you have the ability in the future to demonstrate some of these specifications.

So in that talent review process, the conversation was oh, Susie and Sam are both high potential. Great, do either of them, also display the potential to show us the capabilities that we identified in that specification step?

So they decided we're going to get to this talent by having them be not just the best but the best with a specific set of pure capabilities. And that was actually relatively straightforward to add in. We charged the HR leader with being the person who needed to take that data, and then move it forward to the next step of production. So we know what the five or six differentiators are.

We now know who the candidates are. The question is, what are the paces that we move them through? So what's the, what are the experiences the education, the exposure, and the same process was used to discover those materials or those ingredients as was used to determine the specifications? What speaks to people in the organization who have grown let's see what steps they went through. Let's add in some of our objective advice as well around that.

Came to some surprising conclusions about what things were necessary, what things were not necessary. Some things that we would not have predicted, like being part of an M&A were critical people. So you learn so much about the company and in the breadth of the company in that process, we want people to go through some project management piece of an acquisition. And so we built out those steps we identified I think 12 or 13 different experiences, found that there was no additional education that anyone said was needed.

So in that classic trio of experiences, education exposure, people said no formal education is not important. We pushed on that hard cause that sounded unusual to us. No self awareness classes, nothing else? No. Okay. And then exposure, they decided, actually, a lot of it is covered in the experiences.

So they're going to get proper exposure to senior leaders, new markets, factories, etc, by going through the experiences. So bring that story around, we now know what those 12 experiences are. The job of the HR Project Manager for this production line, so they assign a full time person, your job is to manage the production line is to say,

Okay, we know that Suzie has had these three experiences, the next one, she should get as either A, B or C, I as the HR leader am going to shop around the company, and figure out where that next experience is, because we don't want to have a pause in that production line. We don't want Suzie sitting at step three, for four years when she could actually learn everything in 18 months.

So it was a very actively managed production line, which I think for your listeners is probably the secret of making this work. It's not that you build a production line, it's that you move people through it.

If you go to production line for cars in the middle never goes forward, you do not have a car, you need to move people through the production steps. And so that was happening. And then distribution. The final piece, part of that we made easy at the very beginning. And the part of that was made easy was the talent understood, we will put you places that we think are the best places for you to grow as a GM. This company didn't necessarily have batteries in garden spots. So sometimes you ended up in a place you didn't want to end up but you needed to trust the company that this was the best place for you because we have a discipline production line.

And then for, for preventing leaders from holding on to talent too long, the company is also very clear, We are loaning you this talent for 24 months, your job is to steward them help them grow, we will take this talent back in 24 months to move them somewhere else. So it's a very long story around it. But they were very disciplined around we want more better quality talent faster. We know we need to discipline process around that. And we know that we need someone to really ride herd on or project manage that we're not just hoping that leaders would do the right thing.

Chandler Bondan, Chief People Officer at Buzzfeed, shared an equally intriguing perspective akin to Marc's Talent Production Line concept. In a fascinating interview, Chandler shared strategies for nurturing leaders in preparation for stepping into managerial roles. This conversation was particularly exciting as Chandler not only possesses an engaging persona personally, but also generously shared her secrets for crafting an exceptional employee experience.

And what strategies or initiatives are in place to propel employee career development and growth opportunities within the organization, knowing that professional growth and career development is really a source of engagement?

Chandler Bondan: So employee career development and growth opportunities are definitely essential, attracting retaining top talent at BuzzFeed in itself. So we do that in a myriad of different ways. We do that through a monthly offering. So we have a newsletter that goes out. And there's a topic to either what's going on in the current time. So that could be performance review season, that could be goal planning, kickoffs, things like that.

So we try to offer opportunities for people to have training around what we're asking them to do. Sometimes it'll be something fun. So you might have like a personal finance month, and we might bring in some professionals to talk about those things. We try to do fun offerings, in addition to personal growth and career growth.

In addition, we have more formal trainings that are available through programming that's normally facilitated by a leadership team member in partnership with our people experience team. Or we could bring in a facilitator to help with a certain topic or a portion of the training. And in addition to that programming, we also offer a different sort of what we call Manager Masterclass, where we have topics of, hey, you're leading a team, a function, a project, here's a topic that we can discuss as a group so people can learn from one another. And that's been really, really fun.

And then we also have programming that's geared toward diversity, inclusion and belonging. So when we think about what would you do in this given situation, and we might bring a topic up that has happened in the organization or externally that we know is very meaningful to employees and allows them the opportunity to again, learn from one another, but also be able to keep up with what's going on in the industry and what's going on in the world, which right now is so important to employees because they want to feel that connection and that purpose. So we see that definitely add the experience to the culture and to what the company stands for.

I love that you shared that you look at the basically the whole person. It's not just about professional growth, but personal growth too, and learning from each other, allowing people to take bite size learning opportunities is incredible. I mean, I can just see very clearly how this permeates to every function and have this ongoing effect. Is that what happens at BuzzFeed?

Chandler Bondan: Yes. And I think people want to feel valued and want to feel heard and want to know that the organization cares and that the leadership team cares. And the easiest way not easiest, the most important way to do that is by making sure that the content that we bring to employees, and the programming aligns to not just the company vision, but what our employees want to continue to grow as individuals.

Felicia Shakiba: That's an incredible perspective I wish every leader understood. It, I think fuels someone's values and their own morals of things that they think about. And then they deliver it in a professional way through like their world at BuzzFeed, and there's this like cyclical cycle that happens, and it makes a lot of sense.

Let's talk about managers and leadership. So given the emphasis on empowering managers to positively impact the employee experience, could you elaborate on the specific methodologies or frameworks that are employed at BuzzFeed to enable managers in their pivotal role?

Chandler Bondan: Sure, I think we have done a lot of work here by empowering managers that are leading teams, but also project teams, because you have cross functional leaders that might not manage someone's day to day, but might manage the growth and trajectory of different projects and go to market strategies and business growth. So we've really tried to empower those managers to positively impact the employee experience, because it's so crucial to a healthy and productive work environment.

And we've done that through leadership development programming. So we have specific programs that are for people managers around how to provide effective feedback, how to lead teams, how to motivate teams, how to recognize talent, conflict resolution, coaching, things like that, so we have that kind of more formalized programming.

We also offer different sort of feedback tools. So whether that be 360 models, some engagement surveys, ways for leaders to get feedback from their teams to be able to again, know what the expectation of leadership is their peers, see from them, and also direct reports.

So I think that that's a wonderful way to get feedback. But the most important part of getting feedback in a survey form is someone being able to talk through that and be able to action plan for changes that they may need to make in the future.

And we also offer a lot of coaching and mentorship opportunities with senior level leaders and also external coaches where needed. And we see a lot of that with people that are taking on maybe larger roles that might be a stretch, or I'm leading a sales function, and I have really specific targets and goals I need to hit. So you might need someone to come in to help with salesmanship, or leading large sales teams and things like that.

We obviously have a really big performance management process that happens multiple times throughout the years with check in and goal settings and checking in on objectives and those key results that we're really looking for, and then obviously building out some of the I mentioned earlier, but we also are doing a lot of Manager Dens and conversation amongst groups of people and making sure that people not only can hear from the leadership team, from the employee experience team, but also hear from one another and learn about what matters most to different teams throughout the organization.

Felicia Shakiba: It sounds like you have a very layered approach. It's not just here are learning and development programs, there's structure, there's mentorship, there's learning from each other. I think it's interesting.

Well, that wraps up 2023.

I encourage you to share this episode and consider listening to the previous full episodes to truly appreciate the depth of these discussions. Yet, I'm eagerly looking forward to the upcoming year. In 2024, we've curated an exceptional lineup of experts and c-suite executives ready to share their insights on creating organizational success. I'll catch you next week, stepping into 2024. Wishing you safety, warmth, and Happy Holidays.

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