034 : Creating an Agile and Inclusive Company Culture with Joy Sybesma
Today’s guest offers a principle that is evergreen, and yet is truer and more relevant in 2020 than it has ever been: “If we can design our company and our interactions for that person who is the furthest away from us, we will likely achieve an inclusive culture where everybody in-between us actually feels engaged, supported, and included.” How do we create a culture that can evolve as needed while sticking to our core values, all while being inclusive of our stakeholders even on a global level?
Consider this framework composed of four pillars when seeking to create a more agile and adaptive culture: Look closely at how your team gathers, how they communicate, how they see growth, and how they organize and operate. By being clear on how your people function with regard to these four specific areas, you can turn the idea of designing and shaping culture from something that may seem ethereal into something more tangible.
Joy Sybesma and Steve Chaparro discuss how knowing the purpose of gathering with your team can help you determine how to adapt to today’s challenges around the workplace, how to map out your company’s communication cadence, and the importance of working on your career and not just in your career.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Creating a culturally agile team
- How global companies can structure an inclusive office setup in the new normal
- Harnessing the power of intentional and inclusive communication
- Achieving synergy between your global and local strategies as an organization
- Emphasizing the career lattice instead of the career ladder
- Inhibitors to growth and how to remove them
Resources Mentioned in this episode:
About the Guest:
Joy Sybesma serves as a Founding Partner and Principal Consultant at P5 Collaborative Consulting and has previously held the role of Chief People and Culture Officer at Kargo. Most recently, she served as the Chief People Officer at Dataiku, a computer software company based in New York City. Joy is a devoted and passionate people professional dedicated to innovative recruiting, best-in-class development, and building recognition programs that retain talent. She also believes that culture is a business priority, not just an HR priority.
She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Retail Merchandising and Business Management at the University of Minnesota.
Full Transcript: Powered by Otter.ai
Welcome to the Culture Design Show where we feature conversations with leaders and thinkers who are passionate about culture and design. Now, let’s get started with the show.
This podcast is brought to you by Culture Design Studio. This is where I help creative organizations transform their cultures, from being controlling to being collaborative. Now, here are some of the things that I’ve learned. Your creative talent demands a co-creative culture in order to produce their best work. But there’s a problem. Now let’s see if we can recognize some of these signs.
There’s no framework to move your culture forward. You have high turnover and low morale. There’s increasing toxicity across all levels. There’s team engagement and satisfaction that are on the decline. There’s a misalignment between the employer brand and the employee experience. And there’s poor communication about expectations, and values. So if you want to learn more about how I provide facilitation and coaching for your creative team, reach out to me at CultureDesignStudio.com.
My guest today is Joy Sybesma, Chief People Officer at Dataiku, a computer software company based in New York City. Joy is passionate people professionals. She’s dedicated to innovative recruiting, best in class development and building recognition programs that retain talent. She also believes that culture is a business priority, not just an HR priority. She also serves as a founding partner at P5 Collaborative Consulting, and has previously held the role of Chief People and Culture Officer at Kargo. Joy, welcome to the show.
Thank you, Steve. I’m so excited to be here.
Well, as we all ask all of our guests as we you know, we come on board to the podcast every single episode, I love to hear about your professional journey, I’ve learned a little bit about it researching and hearing some of the past podcasts you’ve been a part of. So share with our audience a little bit about what your professional journeys look like.
Great, yes, I’d love to, well, as many HR professionals likely can relate, I did not envision like we’re starting in HR,
That’s is a very common story for sure.
Yes, yes. So um, I actually started in fashion, and retail, merchandising and buying. So I started at division of Macy’s, and really thought I was going to, you know, be an assistant buyer and work my way up and help you know, women across the world, dress their best. And really quickly realized that I was not a numbers stressed person, I was a people stressed person.
I was coming in on Sunday, running spreadsheets, out of just complete anxiety that I would have a number wrong. And pretty quickly, I became kind of the office therapist, you know, the person that people just came to, to talk about what was going on in their life and their work and seek advice. And I felt so energized by it. And I felt good at it. And so I was lucky to identify pretty early on in my career that I had made the wrong choice. And was working at a big enough company where I was able to say, is there an opportunity for me elsewhere. And so I moved into human resources.
And so I one thing that’s common in my career is I tend to be quite loyal to my companies. So I spent 11 years at Macy’s, over the course of in stores and in the corporate world. And they actually moved me to New York City. And I spent several years there building out different HR programs and really found my place in learning and development. Absolutely loved that, that that part of the HR world.
And over time, I ended up moving to a division News Corp to lead sales training there. And really just like build out sales, training programs and, and become more of a specialist in that regard. And what I found in that role is it was too narrow for me, I think a bit nosy. And I wanted to be a part of the entire employee experience from finding them, to interviewing them to hiring them, to training them to promoting them all the things.
And so over the next six years at News America Marketing, I kind of just took every opportunity that came my way. So if a recruiter left the company, I would say I’m happy to take that on. If an HR business partner left the company I would say I’m happy to take it on. And so that that was fortunate for me as I got to learn a lot under really great leaders and elevate their so when I left News America, I was the VP of HR. And so I’d really become much more of a generalist and a leader of a global team.
And I left News American marketing to go to Kargo and I went very intentionally, I wanted to work at a tech company, I wanted to get in earlier to help design the culture. And I wanted to be the head of the team, I really wanted to build a team from scratch have influence, and drive the creation of the organization. And I did that for months pregnant with my first child. So that was another factor is you can find tremendous ambition when, when you know, you’ve got only a few months to prove yourself before going on maternity leave.
And so spent three years at Kargo really taking that company through a lot of growth and a lot of challenging times to and saw a lot of evolution in that company during that time. And left there as the Chief People and Culture Officer to join Dataiku, about 10 months ago, and it’s a theme, I was two weeks out of the hospital having my second child when I interviewed the data here. So I don’t know what it is about me and bringing children into the world and also deciding to make massive career jumps.
Maybe it’s the theme of wanting to birth new things.
Yes, maybe you’re right, there’s so much of that in it. And you know, it was an interesting choice. Because I had I had founded P5 Collaborative Consulting with two incredible co-founders about a year before. And we really are helping we call enlightened CEOs. So enlightened CEOs who understand the importance of culture and people and make that the business case. And we found a tremendous need, especially in scaling tech companies, for CEOs to have a really right hand thought partner.
And so my co-founders continue to lead the charge there. But I decided that I wasn’t done being in-house, I think that it’s just a tremendous opportunity to be able to be in this role. And so I sought out some opportunities. And I work with an executive coach who said, you know, some people, they look at replicating the same experience over and over until they run out of runway. And true, like a growth mindset, people intentionally choose a harder different experience. And that’s when you actually grow.
I think that’s what I did at Dataiku, I chose intentionally this company, because it had a tremendous product. A CEO who I aligned with his values, a vision for the future, an incredibly engaged population, and global, and I was thinking to myself, I’ve never worked for someone who is based in France before. I never been distributed from my boss, geographically by that much distance. And, and it’s gonna be really hard. But that was like very motivating, right? Like, you know what, I can figure it out. And I believe in what they’re doing, and I want to be a part of it.
Yeah, I’m starting to get this picture. And I think it resonates even with how I view some things like I can’t just do something that is easily attainable, or, you know, just, you know, I can do it in my sleep, I have to try to do something that’s harder, the harder route, you know, because I do believe like that growth mindset that this that desire to, to seek transformation and that growth.
I think growth is part of the whole picture of transformation happens when there’s growth. But that growth only happens really, when you’re testing your limits. And I think I’m seeing that for you.
Now, Dataiku, so you mentioned we were talking before and, you know, as I understand it, it was founded in 2013. And it’s a French founding team, and it’s distributed. I think you said it was 16 countries. What are some of the challenges that you have seen that are unique to say Dataiku? Because of maybe those and other factors?
Yes. So I think the first thing that comes to my mind is we ask ourselves the question a lot of can we have a global culture? Is it possible? So we’re using the phrase “glocal”. Can we have a global umbrella of how we how we view things, and then potentially localized execution that may look a little different?
But I think one story that comes to my mind right away is, I have always felt like my ability to communicate verbally has been a strength.
And when I joined Dataiku, I realized that I was not effective with my French team, the way I was communicating was not working for them. And it started with a team meeting where I said, Okay, we’re going to do recognition, we’re going to just shout out each other, you know, who’s made your life easier, who’s gone above and beyond within our team, and I’d given you know, an email to the team a week earlier saying we’re going to do this and some slack reminders along the way. And then globally, I say it and globally. Zoom, it’s like crickets.
I’m like okay, what did I say wrong? What did I do wrong here and kind of worked my way around it to say, okay, like, seems like we’re not ready for this. So we’ll come back to it. And then I got barrage with feedback, you know, from my French team. So joy, like, we’re not comfortable with giving public recognition, we don’t do that here.
And so I think one thing is just we have, we have a lot of global leaders who have global teams, and so making sure that they’re culturally agile, and that they’re understanding the preferences and the expectations by geo of their teams. And they’re the ones adapting so that their teams get what they need. So that’s one thing that definitely comes to mind.
And I think the other piece of that is, we are lucky that we’ve, we’ve come together, we’ve gathered together, every year, we do an all company kickoff, where we go somewhere in the world together. And you know, the amount of camaraderie that comes from being in person.
And we really prioritize travel interoffice travel, and we’ve done a lot of mobility of people moving, you know, people from one country to another to grow regions. So we’ve put a lot of emphasis on that. And obviously now in the state of the world with COVID. We’re really having to reimagine, reimagine what that looks like in conjunction with other elements of how we reimagine our culture.
Yeah, that’s so interesting. And I think one way that I can, that that story resonates with me is I was part of a master’s degree cohort at Parsons, and it was an online cohort, and we would have everything, you know, primarily, everything was done online, and I was, frankly, a little reticent about the impact that that would, you know, if there was gonna be a positive impact, it was going to be great environment.
And we definitely gelled the first semester, but at the beginning of the second semester, we did come together for an in-person intensive. And it was just like, all of the online camaraderies that we had built, catapulted when we got together in person.
And then we went, you know, back into our, you know, gone remote for 12 months, and then back again, for a second week intensive. And again, there was like this acceleration of that camaraderie, and basically a culture that was built within our cohort. And it seems to me that that’s the case this mix, yes, it’s an expense to send 400 people to an on-site, you know, gathering, but the positivity, the positive effects of that seem to be just exponential.
I completely agree. And, and so that brings me to this theme of what we’re facing right now. And I think pretty much every company globally, is thinking about this is, you know, COVID, I think has taught us a lot. One thing it taught us is that we are very, very fortunate to have to be in a software-based organization, where we could pretty much overnight have everybody working remotely, without much of a blip in performance. And so that’s obviously a luxury that we have.
But one thing is that now, you know, we’ve had different stages of reopening country by country. We have our Paris team pretty much in the office now and can be kind of back to normal, where in the US, we have, I think, two people who are coming into the office because people just aren’t ready and don’t feel comfortable.
And so there’s, I think there’s anything I’ve read about fully remote companies. They’re very upfront and saying the combination of being in office and distributed or remote doesn’t work. And so we had that pre-COVID. But something that’s very much on my mind right now is post-COVID.
How do we almost operate as if we’re a fully remote company? In an effort to be really inclusive, because each person has circumstances and comfortability may require them to work at home forever, because, you know, their kid can’t go back to school, and they don’t have child care, or they just don’t feel safe going in and being next to their colleagues.
So we have all these I think, new factors that complicate people’s relationship with an office. Yeah. And I think are really forcing us to reimagine what we’re calling. Really, if I take the culture and say, ultimately, the culture and what we can control, the culture is very much about how we interact.
And so we’re categorizing it as four areas to actually like put some framework and design and it’s how we gather. And that’s what we were talking about before, how we communicate, how we see growth, and how we organize and operate and so very much thinking about the culture in that way and like making something that kind of ethereal or more tangible?
Yeah, I love frameworks. So this idea of these four different ways of examining that is a great way to think about it. So I’m excited to dive into that.
So how we interact, if we think of it as four pillars, the first one you mentioned was how we gather and you and I kind of shared a, an unspoken chuckle, because we both have read this research study that was done out of Harvard Divinity School, and it was called how we gather? Well, how was that influential in this, this thinking in terms of how we gather?
I don’t know if it was it must have been subconsciously. But really, it was my team. And we did this exercise in our, global summit that was virtual, where we did using Nero, which is a great collaborative whiteboarding tool, I’m sure you know it. And we did some sticky notes around the roses, the bugs in the forums of our culture.
And one of the roses was the fact that we’ve invested in person and in-person gatherings, and how valuable that’s been, and how, how that’s made so much stickiness, right in the relationships and the ability to feel a part of something.
And so as we think about how we gather, it’s really going back to what is the purpose of our gatherings? And we’re really taking it to real day to day. So yeah, oh, how do we gather in an office? And what’s the purpose? And what’s the reality going forward? And how might we achieve that differently?
So something we’re thinking about is New York, for example, from our serving of our population, we likely have 10 to 15%, who actually want to go back to an office five days a week.
I think that’s, that’s natural, because of the barriers of New York City’s cost of living public transportation. The parents in our office, I think, have had one positive of covid, of actually having a lot more time with their family.
And not wanting to go back to an hour and a half commute each way.
But people want the blend. So it’s making us rethink how we use office space, to make it much more of a flexible environment, but also have larger spaces that can accommodate big gatherings with social distancing, and in-person client training when that would make sense.
So we’re thinking of as tactical as the day to day gatherings to as big picture, as are all company kickoff? And what does that look like? How can we reduce our carbon footprint and still achieve, you know, that global cohesion? And, and do it in a way that makes sense even when we get to 1000 employees, so forth. We’re really thinking of that whole spectrum of day to day gatherings to those kinds of annual gatherings.
And that’s a very interesting sort of line of question, or just an inquiry to go down in terms of how are we going to redefine how we gather in physical places. And, you know, some folks are saying, well, we might not need as much as we had before, we might actually have to redesign our spaces because they aren’t necessarily going to be places where people come to actually get eight hours of work in, it’s going to be very strategic,
You know, more, we’re going to have meetings or larger gatherings, like you’re saying, and so it’s much more strategic than just adopting the best practices of the past. So it is going to be very interesting, and maybe, you know, six months down the road, we can reconnect and see how you arrived that, you know, what is it that you arrived at, you know, some of those answers.
And I think one of you know, coming from the architecture background myself, you know, I was always very keen of how can, how can physical environments, embody or reshape the culture of an organization, but also, the idea of how can digital environments do the same? What are some of the things you’re thinking about that in terms? How do you gather digitally?
Yes, I love that. So one thing is, we had this in-person gathering called team days. And in the Americas, we have a lot of account executives and people who are working out of their homes, even pre COVID, around the US and Canada.
And so every quarter, we’d bring everybody together in New York for two days, which we call team days. And it would be a time for team building time for you know, sharing updates on the business, but really about like in-person time.
And so when COVID hit, we were thinking, Okay, well, I guess we canceled team days because we can’t be in person. But we said what if we create virtual team days? And we talked about intentionality. My team was incredible at really designing that experience. Knowing that you can’t recreate organic.
But what we did is things like and we actually published a guide, it’s on LinkedIn, of how to actually build a virtual team-building experience. But we did things like an egg hunt. So you know, in engineering and code, engineers will put eggs in, that people can find, right. So we played off that theme.
And every person who had a presentation, we had them hide eggs, like actual easter egg pictures in their deck. So create engagement, right, but also a little bit of competition. So throughout, there was a bingo game, and basically, people had to collect the eggs throughout.
We also did Zoom Kitchen. So basically, as the breaks between each session, we would have a different separate Zoom link that people could go into, where you never know who would show up, kind of like the kitchen, but you just have coffee and talk. And so it was like, formalizing something informal in an effort to create informality if that makes sense.
Um, another thing that we did was just really utilize the interactive features of Zoom. So a lot of breakout rooms, a lot of smaller group discussions. And we even had a magician, so we had a Zoom magician, and we let parents bring their kids and significant others. And we did like literally a Zoom Magic Show.
And then the other cool thing we did was, we did kind of like an adult, show and tell. So we have, you know, all these people in their homes. And it’s so cool because you have this intimacy that you don’t normally get on your all in the office. So we really tapped into that. And we asked people to show us something in their house that’s meaningful to them.
And the amount of like, interesting things that came out of that, and depth of relationships was super cool. So that’s one thing that we’re thinking about. Another is historically for onboarding. So we’re rapidly scaling company hiring, you know, hundred to 200 people a year. And up until COVID, we would every month, we had an onboarding week in Paris. So every individual employee, no matter where they were going to work, came to Paris for a week. So not a bad thing, like pretty cool perk.
And all of a sudden, we had all these new hires, who were joining during COVID and couldn’t go to Paris. And so we had to really quickly adapt that experience to a virtual experience. And now it’s really it’s, it’s interesting because we’re actually finding that some of our assumptions about in-person learning are actually been proven wrong.
That people are or maybe they aren’t building as closer, cohesive relationships as quickly. Yeah, but they are actually learning the content and ramping up faster. So now we’re thinking a lot about post COVID? And what makes sense to be in person and what makes sense to be virtual.
So those are some things that we’re thinking about.
Yeah, I was the word that you used in terms of talking about your team. And in planning that team, they use the word intentionality. And I think I think as long as we are intentional about how we gather, I think they will be impactful, whether it’s in person or online. I think that’s the name of the game. So the second thing you talked about is rethinking how we communicate. So what are some thoughts that you have about that?
So I think about it a lot as a global leader. And I think I told you this story when we were talking before, but it was our It was our annual kickoff, and we were in the country, Malta, beautiful place, lots of Game of Thrones, filming sites. And I was on a bus with, with other employees going to an outing. And I was sitting next to a new employee who was his first day.
So he joined at the company off-site, pretty cool. And he was raised in the Burmese mountains. And he was about to be placed in the Singapore office. And he had never been to Europe or the US in his life. And I remember just being struck by how fortunate I was to be able to meet this guy in person, and just how much perspective I could gain from getting to know him, but also how different he was going to experience this company than I would or somebody in Paris would.
And it got me thinking a lot about how we communicate. And going back to your word about intentionality. I’ve been thinking about intentionality and inclusivity in communication. And the first thing that comes to my mind is, how do we as global leaders, how do we try to reach the person who’s the furthest from us? And that may mean geographically. That may mean if I’m a people leader, maybe it’s the most technical engineer? Yeah, maybe it’s if I’m 42 years old, it’s the person who’s 24.
And if as leaders, I think of a global team, especially, I think if we can design our company and our interactions for that person who’s the furthest away from us. We will likely actually achieve an inclusive culture where everybody in between us actually feels engaged and supported and included as well.
And I think that ties into how we communicate. I’ve been doing a lot of research on Git lab. And these fully remote companies who are so detailed and documented in everything, right. And one of the culture bugs that I’m concerned about right now is as some teams get to go back to an office, they get the privilege of informal communications, they may hear something about a strategic change in our vision, yeah, that maybe the guy in Singapore isn’t going to be able to hear because he’s still at home. Right?
And so I think it’s, it would be a normal thing to consider at the stage of scale. But even more so as a distributed company globally. Now, especially post COVID.
We’re still in it, is how do we think really deeply about what we communicate in what medium? And why so that everybody can have access to the information they need at the same time,
Right, and I think when we talk about communication is not just communication from us to them, but it’s also making it easy for people that are the furthest out to communicate back to us.
And I was part of a firm that had, you know, multiple national offices across the country. And some of the comments that we would get is, well, it doesn’t matter what we, in the satellite offices think, whatever, whatever HQ wants to do, they’re going to do, and that was very heartbreaking to hear. And it wasn’t the byproduct of any intentional exclusion. It was just the proximity that we had with each other at HQ, physically together, having those conversations informal or otherwise. And so that’s naturally what would came to head
So it was a, it was that message, unintentional message that was being sent to those that were further out. And I think, very much so I think today, if we can think about how can we communicate in a way that not only, you know, has communicate outward-facing, but then how do we receive? How do we embrace how do we invite people that are in our employees in other offices, communicate, but also validate in using their, you know, whatever they bring to the table is so important?
Yeah, I completely agree. I have two, two thoughts on that. So the first is something that I think we’re doing that’s, that’s not that innovative, but it’s effective. Yeah, is we’ve really mapped out our communication cadence in terms of outward write from leadership to the employees, and then we evolved into also that feedback loopback.
So one thing we do is, every Monday, we do something called news, gossip, and news. And it’s basically I have an anonymous forum where people can submit gossip. So what are you hearing? What are your questions? What’s on your mind? Let’s tackle it head-on.
So we start with news, who’s new? So we introduce the new people who are who have joined the company, then I go by line by line on the anonymous form of what’s the gossip that people have submitted, and I address it. And then we open it up the chat and the end, and let people unmute, and actually share thoughts, comments, additional questions, or even additional gossip that they didn’t put in the anonymous form.
So it gives people a lot of different mediums to share back in a way that’s the most comfortable for them. And I think what’s what’s the most critical about it is the fact that it’s consistent. So it’s every week, people know they can rely on it at the same time, and it’s recorded. And so we share it back out with everyone so that even if you can’t attend, you can hear it.
And then the last part news, gossip, the news, the final news is what’s new, and what’s happening. So actual real news, not fake news, company announcements, things like that. And I think it’s really gotten us in sync, and going back to global and local. And it was something we started in the Americas. And now our CEO is doing gossip news and croissants in Europe. And so kind of like a spin-off of it. same premise, but like a little bit of iteration because it makes sense for that.
Yeah, the whole Glocal thing is so important. And I think, you know, if we were to take one example that is completely unrelated to, you know, culture, but maybe not, you know, think of Starbucks.
Starbucks, when it was really growing in a really powerful way. It had a pretty universal experience in terms of everything kind of looked the same. And then when the wave of you know, specialty coffee came in hyperlocal coffee shops, there was a big draw to that. So Starbucks wanted to, you know, tap into that hyper-local, local, localism, if you want, if you please.
And I think they understood that, okay, yes, we have this global brand. But each store, we want it to look very different and specific to it’s not just a city, but even its neighborhood. And I think that degree of flexibility, that degree of allowing that local team too, to really speak to the community was was so important. And I’m hearing that’s what you’re, you’re saying as well.
Absolutely. It’s funny, it reminded me of my Macy’s days because I remember the strategy shifting too. We shouldn’t carry the same merchandise in every Macy’s asked us we should have like the local you know, if it’s, if it’s where Texas a&m University is that that community really cares about Texas a&m University, we should have that apparel in our Macy’s.
So yeah, yeah. And I think finding that balance of like, what, culturally What do we have to commit to globally? And what can we do a bit differently regionally? And I think I can maybe make sense to talk about, specifically right now, something that’s I think top of mind globally, is around Black Lives Matter and being anti-racist. And that’s it’s probably been one of the more challenging topics, I think, probably for any company, in a global company.
Additionally, challenging to align on, on, on real expectations of how to address it, on whether or not we should even talk about it at work. The term race, not even being a term that some countries use. And so I think a lot of companies probably in our shoes would have really steered away from tackling it.
We on the other hand, are, for better for worse, tackling a very head-on. And saying what, what we can align on globally, is that we want people to have equal opportunities to advance to feel included to be their whole selves, but how we approach that may need to differ a bit geographically.
And so we can commit to the purpose globally, but we may have to approach it somewhat differently, geo by geo. And I think a big piece of that we invested in a consultant, who is here, he’s African, and French, and spent many years in Silicon Valley. And we found like the intersectionality of those cultures, incredibly important. And he’s setting up one on one conversations with our employees, and basically allowing safe space conversations to happen.
Because we understand that there’s a massive divide of even understanding of this topic, and giving people a place to express themselves without fear, and to learn and to grow. And that’s a personal goal I have for every employee at our company, is that no matter what stage of their life, or their career, that they come here, that they leave more culturally agile, and informed.
Yeah, I mean, even that term, culturally, agile is a great way to think of it, you know, and I use that word intersectionality. As a way of, you know, I think of the word. If you’re familiar with the term ecotone, it’s, it’s basically when you have one ecosystem, and then you have a second ecosystem. And then you have when those two ecosystems overlap, overlap is called an ecotone. Where it’s basically we’re a certain species of animals can only exist in that overlap in that ecotone.
And so it’s very interesting to see how that might even, you know, when using intersectionality, that there might be some very beautiful things that come when those two cultures come together, whether those are geographically those a geopolitical, or within even a country itself, because there are some countries out there, as you said, that have way more even cultural diversity, at least in terms of population than even the United States. I know that some of the European countries are much more cosmopolitan than much of the North America is.
I love that concept of ecotone. And I’m gonna steal that now I have to do some research on it and figure out how I can use that in our definition of our culture. Thank you.
Well, you talked about a third, third pillar in terms of how we interact, and it’s how we organize. What are your thoughts there? How do you use that at your company?
So I think organize can be interpreted a few different ways. I think the first thing is actually because I’m in HR, I think about the actual organizational structure of the company.
And we’re facing some big decisions there to have, again, global and local, where do we need to align globally? And why? And where does it make more sense to have regional leadership? So thinking a lot about that, and, and also, it overlaps into how we communicate.
Because a big factor too is how we make decisions. And roles and responsibilities. And a lot of the things that I think any startup gets to this kind of like inflection point of, man, now we have to, like write everything down. And we have to, like, have an org chart and not as fun, right? It’s not as fun.
And Dataiku, there’s one of the elements of the French founding culture that I really love is the, there’s a lot of trust and autonomy, put in people, like we hire smart people, and we let them do their thing. And realizing as we grow, and we expand even more globally, that people need clarity on who does what, why, who to go to, and it goes back to inclusivity, right, and speed and efficiency of if we actually organize and write things down and are clear, it’s more likely going to lead to an integrated and tight culture.
Because people don’t have to make assumptions, and I think about it in the terms of I think it’s a classic thing, when, when you have early employees who tend to kind of like get just put into new jobs. Like, well, Steve’s been here since us, you know, employees, six, and he just constantly is like asking for new roles and getting all these like shiny, awesome new opportunities.
And if you know, Steve, you’re like, well, of course, he’s deserving of that. He works really, really hard. And, and he is he’s really opportunistic, he knows how to like ask for what, what he what he needs, and he’s close to the vision of the company.
But on the other side of that, it can start to feel like favoritism. Like, well, oh, if if I had known that that position was something that the company was going to prioritize, I would have been interested. And well, I’ve 10 years more experienced than Steve. Why wasn’t I considered?
And so I think a lot of that formalization of process and consistency, and actually applying that process is one of the most important things to keeping a culture intact, because I think the risks or the culture bugs, of being informal or inconsistent, far outweigh the benefits of it.
Yeah, yeah. And those are some of the things that I think a lot about, too, in terms of the design of the organization itself, as you’re saying, the organization, whether it’s the chart, how decisions are made. And I think, too many companies are using models from the past that no longer work.
You know, the best practices that we employ the last 2030 years were based on those known factors. But we live in an environment now where everything is so volatile, you know, complex and ambiguous, and that we can facilitate a structure or an organizational design that is is agile, use that word. So I think culturally agile, structurally agile, you know, I think the agility comes into it in many different ways.
Yeah, and it’s interesting, because I think, to your point, oftentimes, we assume having less structure makes you more agile. When in at a certain stage, it actually makes it messy, and you’re duplicating efforts, and people are confused. So yeah, I agree.
So I know with startups, there’s this, there’s this big concept about scaling. You how do you how do you grow? And I think growth brings a lot of benefits. But also is it’s a pretty messy process, too. So I the fourth pillar that you mentioned, in terms of how we interact is how we grow. So what are some things you’re thinking about there?
So I’m doing a double entendre with grow a little bit, okay, thinking about how we grow and scale as a company. Yeah, I’m thinking about how each individual experiences growth.
So as we grow and scale I use this, this image. Have you ever seen that bridge in Vietnam that has the hands the giant hands? Oh, I have it. It’s really cool. So with the people team, I’m trying to paint this picture for them that there’s, you know, all these iterations or stages of growth that companies experience.
And there’s a few different books I’ve seen that have a chart where it shows like the valleys of death,
The trough, yeah
Right, the trough, so if you can’t like make it to that next stage of growth, whether it’s revenue or its employee account, you’re going to fall into like the majority, which is the valley of death, like 90% of the companies will fall and not be able to do it.
So I picture Our team is like building that bridge over the valley. Yeah. And then being the hands that hold it up. And so, when I think about the company growth, it’s what are the actual, like wooden slots of the bridge that we’re building they’re putting in. And a lot of it has to do with process.
And so in terms of terms of growing the company, that’s the way we’re thinking about culturally, and it actually ends up tying back to how we communicate, how we gather how all of those things are connected to it. And then individual growth.
So I mentioned, I found my first HR home and learning and development, and it will always be the part of my job that I love the most. Because I think I personally have a growth mindset. It’s the number one thing I hire for when I build a team. And I think it’s really the difference-maker in the companies that win and succeed.
I read this great book a few years ago, thank you for being late by Thomas Friedman. And one thing he talks about is that if you think about competition for jobs, and now global competition, basically every day, people are gradually getting smarter and more capable probably than you and I. That the one differentiator is the people who are constantly learning, and constantly evolving and having that growth mindset.
So one thing when we were tackling that at Dataiku is where we’ve really started socializing the career lattice, not the career ladder. And the idea that growth comes within your role. Growth comes oftentimes from stepping down and taking a different role. And then oftentimes, the outcome of growth is a bigger job. But it’s an outcome, it’s not actually growth. And especially at a growing scaling tech company, where we have many people who are early in their career.
We’ve taught people I think, through recruiting, that elevation, and bigger title, and more money that comes with bigger title is what you should seek. And that’s like LinkedIn, I had somebody tell me the other day, you know, my LinkedIn hasn’t changed in a year and a half. And like, that’s meaningful to people, right? And I’m thinking God, I remember my former boss saying to me, you need a year to learn your job a year to get good at your job, and then a year to prepare for the next time, right? And I’m like, if I told that to some of my new employees, they’d be like “are you crazy?”
So part of it is like, I think education around, we’re going to celebrate growth in all directions. So we’re starting to do these career ladders stories, where we actually feature different employees who talk about their journey on the lattice. So so that’s one piece.
I think another one is, around self-awareness and actually managing yourself. So something that so I work with an executive coach, I’m lucky enough to do that. And one thing that he has shared with me, is this that not many people invest in working on their career and working in their career?
You’re in your career, you’re thinking about, like, how do I like do well, in this project? How do I get to the next step? But working on your career is thinking about how do I manage my time? How do I understand really fully? How do I build my self-awareness? How do I focus on what I’m good at? All those things.
And so we’re, we’re building out a program called leadership for everyone at Dataiku. That’s all about like, whether you’re an individual contributor, and you’re a year into your career, or you’re a leader, you know, managing a 20 person, global team, everybody has leadership as a core element of their role.
And building out programming and classes and experiences that really support people so that like, no matter where you’re coming from your career journey and joining Dataiku, you’re going to leave more self-aware, more curious and feeling like you really grew.
Joy, there’s a book and that all of that, you have to write a book on that that is so amazing, I love that idea of a lattice versus a ladder, and how there’s, there’s benefits to even what may seem to be a lateral move. I love the idea of working in your career and on your career.
It’s very, the very same principle that comes from that book. The E-Myth principle, the E-Myth revisited, which is talking about entrepreneurs, and don’t just work in your business, but work on your business.
So those soft skills, the mindsets, you know, all of those things are so important because I think that’s, I think those things are the things that bring most fulfillment wherever you’re at, because otherwise, we seek fulfillment, from the role in the tasks that we do rather than the mindset that we bring to it.
I think that’s so key. I love that and I think I love the scales to have growth at a personal level team, department, organization, and then, you know, at all different scales. I think that growth is so important. What are some of the things that you have found that are inhibitors to growth?
Because I know we want to take on a growth mindset. But we also want to acknowledge that there are some inhibitors that we may not realize are there. And if we can remove those inhibitors, or at least, you know, address them, we can exponentially grow thereafter.
Okay, well, I’ll just refine what first comes to my mind and what I’ve experienced in these types of conversations with employees. I think the first thing is a misconception that the only way to grow is through training.
So I think about one, one thing we’re trying to do is channel people to the right type of method of growth, based on what they’re trying to achieve. So for example, the one that’s the most overused is I need presentation skills training. Mm-hmm. I hear this all the time, right. But when you really drill into it, what you learn is, you need to learn how to listen. Or you need to learn how to articulate something in a digital format.
So I think one is like the lack of specificity that people get to, and understanding what they’re trying to achieve. And that goes to coaching, and enabling managers to be able to ask the deeper questions and like, really peel back the layers of the onion, to understand what’s holding someone back from growth, and what’s actually the best avenue. And the other piece of that then is equipping managers with understanding all of the different ways to give growth and fundamentally forgetting that oftentimes, the best way to grow somebody on your team is by actually delegating things from your list.
And, and so yeah, so I think that’s the first thing is assuming training is the answer to everything and not deeply identifying actually what you’re trying to achieve, and therefore understanding the best methodology to get there. I think there’s this other one that, especially as people I think, take on bigger and bigger teams, they stop investing in themselves. No, I think about it, like right now I’m reading this. I’m reading like six books, but one is the courage to be disliked.
Ah, yeah. That takes courage for sure.
I’m not good at this. And I actually, like I blocked time on my calendar to read. Yeah, and it’s in my workday. And I think, feeling maybe the confidence or the permission that like, learning is a part of your job. And having the discipline to carve out that time.
Most people deprioritize themselves, right. And if it’s not a deliverable for someone else, it’s going to go to the bottom of the list. But if you think about investing, and that goes back to working on your career, and in your career, is I think about why am I in this role? And what am I here to do? And in order for me to be inspired? I have to invest this time. And if I don’t invest this time, I’m not going to be inspiring.
Yeah, yeah. Joy, this has been such a fabulous conversation that I lost track of time. We our time is up for today. But folks, we’ve been talking to Joy Sybesma, Chief People Officer at Dataiku. Joy, if people want to learn more about you and your work, where can they find you?
Best places, probably LinkedIn Joy Walters Sybesma, I kept my maiden name on there. Joy Walters Stybesma, LinkedIn will be the best place to go.
Thank you, Joy. I appreciate you being on the show.
Thanks so much for the opportunity. I had a blast and learned a lot.
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