Fostering a Growth Culture
Below is an article originally written by Tara Sussman, an HR Business Partner at PowerToFly Partner Bluecore, and published on July 30, 2018. Go to Bluecore's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
Bluecore is one of the fastest growing SaaS startups in the marketing technology space. With this exponential growth comes new talent — and lots of it — joining our team on a regular basis.
But much like how we advise our retail customers on the need to focus on both customer acquisition and customer retention, as a People team, we don't just focus on bringing in new talent. We also focus on developing our employees' capabilities once they join our mission. Because when our people grow, Bluecore grows.
Growth is one of our core values and it shapes everything from how we manage performance goals and think about leadership to how we approach challenges and understand learnings.
So how do we ensure Bluecorians grow and succeed in a way that benefits both them and Bluecore?
Onboarding Done Right #fromYestoSuccess
Launching new employees at Bluecore is similar to how Bluecore launches campaigns for our customers — with a program that is simple and powerful.
Our approach is twofold, as we focus on both ramping up our new employees and providing comprehensive tools to their managers to help everyone build a successful career at Bluecore.
From the new hire perspective, we give all new employees access to a portal with key resources to help prepare them for a successful first week. This includes a first day agenda, our "Benefits & Perks" guide and information on our Bluecore Buddy program. Once our new employees get here, their first week is all about creating a warm welcome with culture sessions, team lunches and trainings on the Bluecore product and company fundamentals. We complement these sessions with the Bluecore Buddy program, which provides cultural and relationship support from someone outside each employee's department.
We offer similar resources for managers, including guides on how to set up new employees, build learning plans, set objectives and establish a 30-day welcome check-in.
Exploring Growth Mindset
One of the most important parts of our culture is introducing new employees to Carol Dweck's groundbreaking concept: Growth mindset. In short, the growth mindset demonstrates that talent can be developed and is not just inherent. It helps people recognize that "their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work."
We need every employee to believe they can achieve success and live by our core values, one of which is directly linked to growth mindset: To learn from the past to build the future. We believe learning from success and failures gives us a path to the future.
Our culture of learning starts when every new employee receives a copy of Dweck's book, Mindset, in our swag bag and expands with training on how to develop a growth mindset. This is a cornerstone of our Bluecore University offerings. The program focuses on building awareness of where you are on the mindset continuum (fixed to growth) and powerful strategies to get or stay in a growth mindset.
The practice of actively engaging in a growth mindset is modeled by leadership, recognized publicly and measured, along with our other values, in performance reviews.
Employees Chart Their Course
On the People team, our mission is to empower our people to unlock their full potential through learning experiences, performance management and internal moves. We offer plenty of resources to help our people grow. This includes instructor-led training courses that range in depth from one hour to half day sessions on subjects like Growth Mindset, Power+Systems, communication, social styles, leadership frameworks and project management skills.
We also offer support through individual development plans and encourage everyone to partner with their managers to make sure they get the experiences they need to get where they want to go in their careers. This piece is important, as we believe a strong manager relationship is crucial in helping employees identifying the right path.
Managers Guide The Way
The critical piece in making all of this come together is giving our managers the tools they need to help their people grow. To achieve this goal, we offer hands-on training for managers through Bluecore University, including coaching on how to have two-way conversations and provide actionable feedback to employees. We also help managers assess the talent and capabilities within their teams to leverage strengths and personalize development. It's in the day-to-day grind when experiential learning happens, and our managers need to guide and recognize progress effectively. They help guide their people to continuously build and enhance skills while making a positive impact on the business. No one's full potential is known, so there is always room for growth.
Having supportive leadership who really cares about our culture and investing in our people is what makes Bluecore special. They model growth mindset behaviors through continuous learning and help our people embrace success and failure. This makes it easy for the People team to focus on providing the tools and resources needed to help our people achieve their full potential.
It's been six years since Sarah Cooper graced us with her 10 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings. But how on earth can we appear smart in our new virtual world, in which for many of us, going to work is just sitting in one long series of probably-not-necessary Zoom meetings?
1. Dial in.<p>Dialing in rather than joining via the link instantly boosts your credibility. Who calls into Zoom meetings? People who are still busy and important enough to be leaving their houses! But you needn't actually be one of those people, or even more than a foot away from your computer to pull off this maneuver. (Remember, this article is called *seeming* smart, not being smart.)</p><p><strong></strong><em>Bonus: </em>If it's a large meeting at which attendance will be taken, the person running the meeting will inevitably ask, "Who's calling in from 443-322-2121?" That's when you raise your metaphorical hand, jump off mute, and say "[Your name] here. Really looking forward to hearing your perspective on [meeting topic]." And voila! You've stolen the meeting spotlight.</p>
2. Don't come on camera—ever.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ0ODU5OS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNjMwNjI3OX0.4fLyq2CvkZAJ7n_03esZepY37mOdyGdDdTEUYt5XEU0/img.png?width=980" id="bc7e6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fbbf21cc5d8c863b30654ae6993b04f5" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p><br></p><p>Much like the "dial in," this technique works because it makes you appear aloof. If <em>The Crown has </em>taught me anything, it's that the key to maintaining a sense of mystique and prestige is to keep people at arm's length—and if you absolutely <em>must</em> touch them, wear a glove.</p>
3. Only communicate via chat.<p>Once you've mastered the art of staying off camera, you can level up by communicating exclusively via the chat box. Don't come off mute at all, even if the speaker asks your opinion. You are the elusive chatter and you will not be forced into actually participating in said meeting.</p>
4. Ask to share your screen.<p>Being aloof is great, but it's all about balance. Sprinkling in some active participation will really shock and impress your colleagues if you catch them off guard, so save this technique for when you've strategically <em>not </em>participated in a string of meetings.</p><p>Spend a few minutes prior to the meeting prepping a few inspirational slides with words like "synergy," "optimization," and "redefining 'culture'", or spend a few minutes poking around in Google Analytics. </p><p>Then wait for the opportune moment to say, "Can I just share my screen for a moment? I have some really interesting data I'd like to share...." and BAM — brilliance established.</p>
5. Show off your Zoom-saviness.<p>Try saying, "You know you can mute people, right?" to the host when they beg whoever's got the lawn mower and crying baby in the background to put themselves on mute for the nth time.<br></p>
6. Create an alter ego.<p>This tactic requires commitment, but the pay off is certainly worth it. Join the Zoom meeting from your normal account + name, and then join it again on a second device from an alias. Have your alter-ego ask some probing or stat-based questions in the chat and have the answers ready ahead of time. It should work something like this:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>Your alter ego Charlene</strong><strong>:</strong> "Does anyone know what percentage conversion rates increased by in Q2?"</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>Real you</strong>: *doesn't miss a beat* "It looks like Charlene has a question in the chat. That would be 36%."</p><div>Never mind that no one on your team knows who Charlene is or why she's at this meeting, they'll be too blown away by your brilliance to notice. (Bonus points if you use this strategy in conjunction with techniques 1, 2, 3 or 4!)</div>
7. Place an obscure object in your background that exudes intelligence.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ0ODYxOC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNzk5Njg2Mn0.V9_-3Ij3v_QndseqlrXRt5Nn39EJ97-itjls5zzYPf8/img.png?width=980" id="a369d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="604a2f04b53c2e3bc801bfa5256f367b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p><br></p><p>We're talking a telescope, or perhaps a hardcover copy of <em>War & Peace </em>(no one need know that its only purpose in your life is as a makeshift yoga block).</p><p>If you don't have any suitable props at your disposal, do not despair: download some screenshots of Sheldon's apartment from <em>Big Bang Theory </em>or the chalkboard in <em>Good Will Hunting </em>and use those as a virtual background.</p>
8. Ask "Is this really the best course of action given the current climate?"<p>Economic collapse, COVID, racism… No need to specify whether you're referring to one or all of the above; just sit back and watch your boss squirm amidst the ambiguity.</p><p>This strategy pairs very well with techniques 2 and 3. You can prep additional vague-but-probing questions ahead of time and pepper them into the chat box throughout the meeting:</p><ul><li>How will this scale?</li><li>Do we really have the bandwidth for this right now?</li><li>What's the value-add here?</li></ul>
9. Remind everyone that you have a paid Zoom account.<p>"Oh, it looks like we're getting the 40-minute warning. I have a paid account, do you want to switch to my room?" It's helpful, with just a touch of condescension. Everyone knows condescending people are smart. And everyone knows that people with paid Zoom accounts are super important.</p>
10. Tell everyone you have a hard stop.<p>When pressed for details, share your philosophy on "work-from-home" balance and how committed you are to getting up once an hour to walk to your refrigerator.</p>
11. Ask the screensharer/host to "pull something up" for everyone.<p>Ask the presenter to navigate to a screen that only you know how to navigate well. Laugh maniacally while they suffer from crippling performance anxiety. Let them struggle for as long as is tolerable before saying, "Oh you know what? I can just share my screen if you want. That would probably be easier." BAM you're the hero. Don't worry, no one will even pause to consider that you could have proposed this course of action from the start.</p>
12. Say Zoom fatigue as many times as possible.<p>If you're too tired to employ any of the other strategies, just say "I know everyone is experiencing a lot of Zoom fatigue, so we can keep this meeting short." Then hang up as quickly as possible. Meeting averted! </p><p>After all, there's no better way to demonstrate your intelligence in a virtual meeting than to demonstrate why it wasn't really necessary in the first place. </p>
I sat in front of my CEO to discuss several complaints of racism. I was new to my role as a Culture Director. I was nervous about his reaction to the complaints. But I also knew he strongly supported developing this new department; I knew that he would take the right steps. So I was shocked when I heard him say sheepishly, "I don't know, Noelle...all of this stuff about racism. I just don't see it. I don't even see color. I'm pretty much color blind."
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