Demystifying Culture & Leadership: Strategies for a Successful Business | Gray Scalable | Skillshare

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Demystifying Culture & Leadership: Strategies for a Successful Business

teacher avatar Gray Scalable, Leaders in HR & People Operations

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
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Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Let's Get Started!


    • 2.

      Demystifying Culture


    • 3.

      Fostering Engagement


    • 4.

      Designing Your Organization


    • 5.

      Nurturing Great Managers


    • 6.

      Tracking Analytics & Action


    • 7.



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About This Class

Ready to unlock a stronger culture for your company & team?

Join the team at Gray Scalable as they share their innovative approach for fostering successful teams in the digital age! 

Company culture is often misunderstood as perks, but it's so much bigger. Culture includes the behaviors, norms, and values that guide your company—and it's key to an effective organization and your bottom line. But: how do you put that into action? How do you improve over time?

In this class, you'll join 5 leaders to explore core essentials:

  • President and founder Charlie Gray on the fundamental “what” and “why” of culture
  • Lucia Smith on engagement & the emotional connection your employees feel
  • Aja Deodato on designing your organization for long-term success
  • Meg Hughes on nurturing great managers
  • Sam Feldman on using analytics to measure, inform, and guide your strategy

Every lesson includes frameworks, best practices, and checklists so you can take action and make a real impact at your organization.

This class is perfect for managers, leaders, founders, and everyone curious how great businesses run. By the end of the lessons, you’ll have a clearer understanding of the actions you can take to foster a vibrant, successful and meaningful work culture that sets your business up for success.


Gray Scalable is a team of recruiting and HR professionals that helps companies grow and evolve their people practices to match the standards of the world’s leading tech companies.


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Gray Scalable

Leaders in HR & People Operations


Welcome! Our team of recruiting and HR professionals helps companies grow and evolve their people practices to match the standards of the world’s leading tech companies. From pre-Series A to post-IPO companies, we help build amazing teams and we develop customized programs that engage your people and advance your culture.

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1. Let's Get Started!: Culture is often misunderstood as benefits or perks, but it's so much more than that. Welcome, I'm Charlie Gray. Today, we're going to explore strategies to foster a successful team at your company. Culture is what it's like to be part of your company, and it's key to an effective organization. It's what attracts great employees, retains them over time, and ensures that everyone can perform their best, which means success for your business. Today, you'll join the team at Gray Scalable. We're a team of recruiting and HR professionals, that helps companies grow and evolve their people practices, to match the standards of the world's leading tech companies. Every lesson will be taught by a different member of the team. President and Founder Charlie Gray, me, on the fundamental what and why of culture, Lucia Smith on engagement and the emotional connection that your employees feel, Aja Deodato on designing your organization for long-term success, make use on nurturing great managers, and Sam Feldman on using analytics to measure, inform, and guide your strategy. This class is for entrepreneurs, people ops professionals, startup employees, and everyone curious how great companies run. By the end of this class, you'll have a clear understanding of the actions you can take to foster a vibrant, successful and meaningful work culture that sets your business up for success. Thank you so much for joining us. Let's get started. 2. Demystifying Culture: Hi, I'm Charlie Gray. I'm the founder of Gray Scalable, and we're going to talk about what is culture. Culture is a set of behaviors that a company chooses to live by. I think it's important for people to think about their people in their culture, for their companies to succeed in today's business environment. Not to say that that wasn't true before, but I think it is especially so now because employees are vocal in public about their cultures. There are tools available where people can get insight about companies cultures such as Glassdoor, and other websites. I think the transparency around company culture makes it even more important for a company to make that a priority. If you can't keep your people number one, and just as important, keep them motivated, and happy, and engaged with your business, which is just as important, then ultimately you're going to be less successful. You may not fail entirely. There are some companies with relatively poor cultures that succeed by strength of product alone. But for the most part, almost any company will be much stronger and more successful because of a strong culture. A lot of companies talk about culture. For many of them, they express their culture on their websites or in their events or other conversations that they have. Too often, it really boils down to things like their environment within their office. In terms of having free lunch, having foosball table, having the events that employees really enjoy. It's great to have an engaged culture where people do these things, and the company provides a lot of perks. But perks are not culture. Culture is about behavior. Culture is about how a company operates. It's how it's management team manages people. That's what culture is. It's not about whether it feeds them or not. That's a different thing. It basically flows down from the leadership of the company. It starts with the early stages of the business, like when there's maybe a handful of people, five or 10 people. How those people choose to interact with one another and how they choose to behave as a group? How the leader or founder of that company behaves to his employees or her employees? How the management team, as it grows, treats people? That's culture. That will ultimately be what your culture is. The challenge for every business at some point is just how to articulate what their culture is. It already exists, it just needs to be discovered. I personally like to say that there's five attributes of culture that you should think about. One is that it's authentic. Number 1, like it has to be things that are actually true to your business. You can't just choose cultures because they sound good or that you wish they were true but you should think about things that are actually true for your business. Second, they should be actionable. If your cultural value is something that actually has no impact on anything in the business, it's not much value to you. You want values that will help you make decisions, and that you will be able to turn into ways to decide who to hire, decide what actions to take, decide how to behave in certain situations. If those values can't help you make decisions for your business, then they're not strong values. Another attribute is being universal or at least pretty universal. Like you don't want a set of values that only the founder of the company or only a handful of people developed, and then shared with everybody else. You want to be as inclusive as possible to ensure that those values are things that everyone in the company actually feels strongly about, and agrees are authentic. Because you often find, I often find that you talk to a leadership team, and they think a certain set of values are authentic to the business but then if you talk to people a couple levels down within the organization, you find that those do not feel authentic to them at all. Then unique. They should be not the same values that everybody else has. It's easy to go, and look at some companies out there, and say, "Wow, those are great values," and you could cut and paste them, and call them your values. But you should really think hard about what your business is, and what is unique about you. You can't come up probably at this point with a purely unique set of values, but you can come up with something that is altogether unique to you in some way. The last, the fifth thing is you should remember, don't have more than five. Like your values should not be 10 things, 20 things. It should be something that every member of the organization can remember. More than five values I think is generally too many. I think it's true that culture is, in my view, the most important thing in a company because you can acquire other things. If your strategy is failing, you can change your strategy. If your culture is bad, it's really hard to change your culture. It is basically a set of behaviors that the organization has evolved, and grown accustomed to. To actually change them is to change everybody's behavior starting at the top. It's a very difficult thing to do. It's important to think about culture as early as possible in a company's growth, and ensure that it's culture that is welcoming to all the people in the company. Otherwise, all the other things that are important: growing revenue, growing customers. All of those things are going to be more difficult if your employees are not culturally engaged, and motivated, and stay with the company. What does a founder need to think about in terms of culture? Number 1, I think you need to think about culture in a way that will advance your business. You want to have a culture that will attract the people that you need to attract, and that will keep them, and keep them motivated. Culture should be something that is a positive force for the organization. You should think about the things that will help you move the business forward. My advice to employee in a company who is thoughtful about their company's values is I would encourage them to take them to heart, and see if there's ways that they can express those values or live those values or represent those values in their roles or to their company. Because presumably if those values are representative of the company, that will be helpful to them, to the business, and to themselves as far as they advance in their career. I think it's important to take values as not just a side thing in the business, but as a central thing to the business. Think about how they can help you make decisions as an employee, and how they can help you decide what kind of course you're going to take. You may discover that those values don't express the business very well. In which case, you can also elevate that to other people to try to do something to force change, to represent the cultures fairly and accurately, which could also be helpful. But I think getting engaged with them, and using them as a professional part of your professional toolkit, so to speak, is something I'd recommend. There are many ways to apply your culture to your company. We're going to talk now with members of my team about different ways that you can use culture to help you make decisions in terms of how management is practiced at the company, how values are expressed in the things that people do. We're going to help you think through some of the ways that you can take action with your cultural values. 3. Fostering Engagement: I'm Lucia Smith. I'm an HR Consultant here today in this portion of the class, I'm going to be talking about engagement and how fundamental it is to your culture and your company as you grow. The first thing I want to talk about is what engagement actually is and how it relates to culture. Engagement is actually the emotional connection that employees have to your company. It's what connects them to what they're doing, what you're doing as a company and the company's overall success. It's really like what I always say, it's like the hook between you and them and it's what keeps them interested and coming to work and doing their best even when things aren't great or even when their goal is maybe a few years away and they just have to be doing the work along the way. Engagement can feel like just this really big soft thing. But actually there's a lot of hard data about why it's so important. According to numerous studies, engaged and happy employees have a lot of benefits to accompany. They stay with your company longer. They perform better and they cause the company to perform better and they just drive more success for the business. Just to get down to some numbers we can start with just retention. Engaged employees stay with all companies longer. According to one study, people were 87 percent less likely to leave an organization if they were engaged and this obviously leads to a lot of benefits, everything from knowledge sharing to training to just less time spent recruiting. Related to that, engaged employees also performed better. In fact, high-performing employees have three things in common. They're skilled, they know what they're doing, they're highly engaged and then they also have a long tenure with the company. Employees who are engaged or 27 percent more likely to report excellent performance. Again, you see it really all connects. Engaged employees are more proactive, they're more productive, they speak up, they get things done. Productivity is shown through 20 to 25 percent in organizations that feel that they have connected employees or employees feel like they're connected to the organization. All of this has a real results on business too. If you look at the other side of things, customer retention rates or 18 percent higher on average when employees are highly engaged and companies with highly engaged employees also report higher revenues. In fact, the UNC business school did a study and they showed that organizations with highly engaged employees had an average three year revenue growth. That was 2.3 times greater than companies whose employees were only engaged in average level. This isn't just about employee happiness, it's also about the bottom line. There are really four fundamentals of engagement that are common across all companies. Which is really to say that they're common across all people. Because engagement is really about just the core of human needs. Those for our connection, appreciation, environment, and mental space. The first one, connection. That's really two things. One is making sure that everyone that you're working with is doing as close as possible to intersection of what they're good at and what they enjoy doing. That's really the sweet spot that you're trying to get to. The second part of it is also to make sure that people are connected to the bigger mission of the company. Like some people say higher purpose. It's not quite a phrase I use, but the idea is that people feel passionate about what they're working on and what their larger goals are. The second one is appreciation. That is exactly what it sounds like. It's making sure that people feel valued in their everyday work and that they're actually receiving a lot of direct and indirect feedback. What that looks like, direct depreciation is things like actually just saying thank you, giving someone like kudos, giving them a shout out in a company meeting, actually giving them a reward sometimes. Then there's also indirect depreciation, which is thinking, Oh, you did a good job, I'm going to give you an opportunity to work on this other project or be on this big presentation, something like that and obviously things like promoting them because of work they've done. It sounds really obvious, but a lot of people actually skip over that, especially with high performers where they just say like, oh, we all know you're doing a good job, it's fine, but it actually, it's really important to show that appreciation. That is what reinforces the connection between you and your employees. The third one is environment, which is really about the work environment that you're providing for people. Again, it sounds basic, but it's actually really important to make sure that people have a clean uncrowded space to do their work. You should really think about good lighting, things like direct sunlight, easy access to power outlets, having plenty of supplies for people, making sure that people have private rooms if they need to do their job. Someone's a person who makes calls all day and they have to do that in the middle of a loud, crowded room, that's going to take a toll on them. The fourth and final tenet of engagement is mental space. That means two different things. One, it's making sure that people really have focused work time that isn't interrupted constantly by meetings. That is something every company falls prey to and you have to actively work against it. You need to give people time to actually do their work, to also try things out. You can't ask for updates every three hours or maybe sometimes every three days even you need to give people the space to really think about something and implement on it. Then second, they also needed to be free of the extra mental effort it takes to figure out what's going on. You want to be as much as possible, giving them information about what's a priority, what their goals are, what they should be working on. You want to be really clear about that so that people aren't spending a lot of time wondering about that and have the mental space to actually do their work. If possible, you want to allow them to participate in these decisions and not be totally micromanaged. That doesn't mean they set goals for the whole company, but they should be able to say, oh, if these are our goals, I think this might be the best way to get to it. There's connection, appreciation, environment, and mental space. To go into each of those, why don't we just talk about a tactical thing you could do for any one of these. Connection that's about a higher purpose and making sure that people really are doing what they're best at. An easy way to do that is you could use your reviews process or your one on ones to talk about that. An easy question that's good to ask employees is, what are you interested in doing or what are your reach goals, talk about the connection between what the company actually needs to be doing and what they say that they want. It's as simple as simply asking. In terms of appreciation. Again, it's as simple as literally saying thank you. I would say try and every one on one you have or at least once a day to someone, just say, thanks for doing this this is really great. Also, anytime anyone does work that maybe you present or you could talk about, give them a shout out about it. Say Blank, helped me put this together. A simple thing that you can do around environment. You obviously can't control everything in your space, but lighting is a huge one. Ask people like, does anyone want a desk lamp? Do we want to take a poll on, lights on versus lights off, that kind of thing and then actually respond to it and try to cater to people. It makes a really big difference. In terms of mental space. Meetings are a huge problem in the companies, this is a big thing, but it's not as big as it sounds. It would be great to try to implement something like a no meetings day. Where aside from one on ones you maybe have no companywide meetings and it's to show that you, as a company, really care about giving people the space and time, at least one day a week where they can just be heads down. I would say the biggest misconception about engagement is that it takes a lot of work that you need to have some big plan or big strategy. When in fact, it's really about focusing on just the fundamental core needs of people so you can think about yourself. What would you want in your everyday? You want space, you want light, you want food, you want to know what you're doing. Just apply that to the rest of the company and just try to make that part of, it's probably already how you make a lot of your decisions. Just think about talking about it or being more purposeful about it. When you're thinking about designing your organization, you really are actually or should be thinking about engagement. I always think of engagement as the foundation of anything, your company, the world. What you're doing is building verticals on top of that. You're building your org structure, you're building your policies, your building, your processes. Those are all on the fundamental core needs of people, which is what engagement really is and if that is not firm, you're building everything on a shaky foundation. 4. Designing Your Organization: Hi, I'm Aja Deodato, I lead HR services at Gray Scalable. In this section we're going to talk about organizational design. Organizational design means, who are the people, what do they do, and how do they work together? Organizational structure really exist from day one, whether you are thinking about it or not. As soon as you start to hire a team, they report to someone, they get direction from someone, they get guidance from someone. Natural organic structure has begun. Even if you haven't defined it, even if you've made no one a manager, people are going to someone for direction, for goals, for ideas about what they should be doing. Even if you haven't said it out loud, it begins to exist. Usually about 25% mark is when you start to see a real need for a real definition and communication to an organization about who's doing what and why. When an organization is formed, it is often top-heavy. You've got your founders and your co-founders, and then you fill in with experts around you. A head a product, a head of technology, a head of sales. These are people who can operate independently and get things done as founders are filling in many different roles. Then over time, what you often see is what looks like an hourglass, almost? You have your senior leadership and then you've started to fill in with junior resources. These are the doers, the people who are getting things done, who are doing the more tactical stuff. Then as an organization continues to evolve, you really see that pyramid flip. At first you were top-heavy pointing down, and now you start to be bottom-heavy pointing up and you move into that more traditional structure of a pyramid. A way to identify if your organizational structure is not working, first one is that, all of a sudden you've got people managing too large of a team. If you're managing ten to 15 direct reports, something's not functioning well. Those people aren't getting feedback, they are probably not setting goals really well, they're probably not having weekly one on ones.Those are all indicators that maybe there're switches need to be made. As follow up to that; goals. If people don't understand what their goals are for their individual role or how they tie up to business goals, also a good indicator that something is failing in the organizational structure. Then lastly, if people are asking for decision-makers. Funny enough, this is something we see pretty frequently. Everyone always thinks about startups not wanting hierarchy and really anti-establishment. But often we'll go into an organization and we'll hear feedback from employees saying, "No, I want a manager and I need to know who that person is. I would like someone to show me an org chart and tell me who I should be asking these questions to." It's a really common piece of feedback. If you start to see that newer organization of people saying, "I'd like to know who I should bring this question to" or "who do I talk about my career path with?". Those are the times where you say, "Okay, yeah, I might need to consider what is my structure right now and what gaps do I have?" An org chart is essentially a chart that shows you who does what, what their job title is, and sometimes there's more detail about what does that role actually mean? Who reports to who and often who works with who? People really think about it in the most traditional sense of, this just tells me who my bosses and who my boss's boss is. But org charts have evolved. They also talk about which teams collaborate together. At what points are there collaboration or where's there expected collaboration? There is a way to use it to really communicate to your organization about, this is how we're structured today, this is how we expect you to operate. It's also a really good tool to talk about what's next. We're 25% organization right now, a year from now we'd like to be 50 and this is where we see that growth happening and this is how it will impact the way we work together. As I was saying earlier, we often get the request for an org chart of, "Can you show me what it looks like? " and "can you tell us who reports to who?" and "can you tell me when we're supposed to talk about this topic or who I'm supposed to talk about it with?" "How does this all tie to employee engagement?". Employees really need to understand where they are in an organization, what their role does, what it accomplishes, how it ties to organizational goals, to truly be engaged, they need to understand the whole context of what they're doing. That's how that connection is established. There are a few other things to consider especially in high-growth environments. The first one is title debt. You often see that employees who have been brought into an organization early on are given a more senior title than the market might warrant. For example, you might see someone with five to eight years of experience with a VP title, where in another organization they might be a Senior Manager or Director and you've done that because it's hard to attract talent when you're a small organization and your compensation might not be as competitive as some of the companies you're competing against. One thing that's easy to flex on is title. But what happens over time is as an organization grows, it becomes harder to maintain those titles because you've started to hire more senior people who have more experience and actually warned the VP level, you've also started to hire more people as Director and Senior Manager. That VP that you've hired is now more aligned with that level, and it starts to become clear. We very frequently help clients cleanup title debt where we think about, okay, someone is not performing at how we would define a VP level right now. What is our plan for them organizationally to get them to that level or restructure and think about where do they fall in the organization now. A lot of organizations have this desire to remain flat for as long as they can. It comes from wanting to be as collaborative as nimble as they can possibly be and while that is all good intentions, it doesn't always work so well, especially as you really start to grow your number of employees. It's great for the first ten or 15. It's a really this inflection point as you hit 20, 25-30, where you start to see that an individual might have ten people reporting to them. A co-founder might have ten or 15 people reporting to them. All of a sudden you really don't have the bandwidth to give those employees what they need. Also, the questions are starting to arise because at this point you are one to two years, maybe even three years into your organization's tenure. People want to know where am I going, am I accomplishing what I should be? What's my career path? What's my compensation growth going to look like here? A manager of 15 people, it's really hard to get through all of those conversations and have a healthy management relationship. That's when that manager level really starts to be necessary and the organization starts to demand it. Employees really started to ask those questions and demand that time. That's often where you see that need for management to come in. The key to getting ahead of title debt or staying flat for too long and dealing with those repercussions is really just organizational planning. Not every founder has the desire to do this or the time to think about it. This often gets back-burnered. Thinking about what is my org structure right now, what does it look like today? Even if I haven't thought about it yet, something exists that's come up organically. What's next? What is the next 20 hires look like? What are the next 40 hires look like? How does my team built around that? How do I take the existing people here and elevate them in the right ways so that they are getting more and feel rewarded? But also my organization grows to meet our business needs and win on the things we need to win on. 5. Nurturing Great Managers: Hi, I'm Meg, I'm an HR consultant. In this section, we're going to talk about nurturing great managers. The number one reason that people leave their jobs is because of bad managers. It's also the number one reason people stay in a job. It's really important to get it right. They're at the front line for employee experience and engagement for all employee issues and ensuring the line of communication is seamless up and down the organization. When I think about great managers that I have had or known. There's two examples that really come to mind. One of those people was just phenomenal at setting really clear, honest expectations. She was always very transparent. You always really knew where you stood, whether it was positive, constructive, good information, bad information. You always felt like you had complete transparency. That's something that stood out to me. Another manager that comes to mind when I think about fantastic managers, was not actually a manager that I had, but a manager I worked closely with who always talked about her goal being to put herself out of business essentially. She wanted to develop her teams so much that her job became unnecessary because her team had grown into taking over those responsibilities, which I think is a goal that a lot of managers might be fearful to set. But in fact, helping your team to grow and take over more and more of what you do actually allows you to expand and grow in your own career. It's not a goal to be afraid of. Whenever we do manage our training's, I always start by asking the room to think about the best manager they ever had. What did that person do? The answer is different for everybody. For some people, it's about development opportunities. For some, it's the way their manager pushed them or challenge them, while others, it's really more about how well they communicated and gave feedback and things like that. The key for managers is really taking the time to understand each individual employee and flex to their unique style and needs. There are several challenges for people managers in smaller companies. The first is that most people don't have the luxury of being full-time managers. They're also balancing their own output and responsibilities with that of their team. The second challenge is that a majority of managers are inexperienced managers who step into manager roles out of necessity just because the company needs more managers without any formal training. The third challenge is that often managers need to navigate from being a peer, being an individual contributor, to managing those who were their peers formally. Fourth, there's also the challenge of not being part of the decisions, but needing to act on them with your team. These are the four things that many companies face. If you're aware of them, you can start to get ahead of them now. Your goal is to mitigate them in order to set your managers up for success. The first step to training and supporting your managers is defining what it actually means to be a manager at your company. This is going to be something that's different at every company. Your mission and your values are a really great place to start. How do you expect people at your company to behave and how can managers be models and drive those behaviors in others. Then the next step is turning these expectations into actionable skills for managers. There are certain basic skills that all managers need to have. Things like communication, expectation, setting and delivering feedback, empowerment and motivation, coaching and development of employees, and accountability and decision-making. This translates into the four major levels of responsibility that a manager has. Those four responsibilities are getting the best results, growing your people, representing your team, and representing the company. Let's take a deeper dive into each one. The first get the best results. Managers are there to oversee the productivity of themselves and of a group of people. You have to be able to find the right balance. Those responsibilities would include things like goal setting and expectations, both for yourself and for your team. Prioritizing, getting the work done and being able to pivot as priorities change. This is the area that most people think of when they think of what a manager does, it's managing the actual results and the output of a team. It's also the first thing that new managers tend to tackle and struggle with is that balance between their own work and the work of their team. The second level of responsibility is growing your people. Managers have to own the well-being and the development of their team. They also have to ensure that their team has the necessary resources and the right environment to succeed and to grow. Responsibilities here would include employee support and development, as well as delivering really great feedback. I think that this is an area that companies and managers do think about, but tend to shy away from. People think of development a lot of the time as employees just thinking about what that next promotion is, when in fact, development is really about figuring out what skills can help somebody to be better at their job and a better contributor to the company overall. You always do want to have an eye on that next role or the long-term career path. But this is really about, how you give somebody experiences and help them build their skills. The third level of responsibility then is representing your team. Managers are responsible for being the face of your team, representing your team to the rest of the company, leading interaction and collaboration with other teams. You want to ensure that your team doesn't build an island. You want to build those bridges with other teams and make sure your team is participating in the broader culture. Responsibilities here are going to include communication, collaboration, building bridges, and acting like an agent for your team. Representing your team is one of those other things that new managers tend to do really well and to think about and prioritize. They have their teams backs. We see that all the time. But the fourth level of responsibility is that you are also responsible for representing the company. Managers are responsible for representing the company's values, decisions, all of that information to the people they manage, and also to the rest of the company and the community at large. It's a larger responsibility. Responsibilities here includes educating managers on company policies, initiatives, any information that they need to be armed with and it also means investing in helping them to be great communicators. That information is moving fluidly up and down throughout the organization. This is something and thinking about these four pillars that's more important than ever. A lot of times, managers think about management as just one of these things. But being a manager is really a second full-time job. It's a huge responsibility. The workforce now, employees are expecting more than ever out of their managers. We have to think about each of these things and every manager is going to have an area that they're strongest in. Some are really great at developing their teams. Some are really fantastic communicators and know how to deliver the company message. Others really know how to defend and fight for their team. All of these, these basic skills that we expect from managers on a large scale, really come back to your individual management principles, which is exactly how you maintain your culture and make sure that's consistent. If you're wondering how to set your managers up to be successful, it's all about preparation and communication. The first step is identifying your management principles. You want to ensure that you're in step with your culture, building it intentionally all the way, especially as you train your managers. Once you have those management principles, you can define what behaviors are expected at each level of the organization. Second is that you should give your manager a set of policies so that everybody is operating fairly and they have consistent guidelines for making decisions and handling tricky situations. Specifically, you want to make sure that you have policies in three major areas. The first is compensation, harassment and discrimination, and then performance or behavioral issues. These are things you really want to make sure all of your managers are confident in reacting to. Third, you should always be thinking about identifying your company's manager so you have a constant pipeline of talent, that can take on this responsibility. Again, that speaks to this idea of starting to develop those management principles long before you need somebody to step into a people management role. Which leads to the fourth step, which is thinking ahead to which management principles or responsibilities a junior member can start to take on before it's time for them to be a full-time people manager. One example, you might give a junior team member the chance to mentor others. Mentor new hires, help them get onboard it. Interns are a really great opportunity to help junior team members flex those management skills also. Over time, it's really crucial that you actually measure how it's going. If you are taking managers who are completely inexperienced and growing them into that manager role, chances are there's going to be a lot of development opportunities. Really crucial to measure and get feedback on how they're doing. It's not always possible for you as the manager or the leader to have the full picture of how somebody is performing as a manager, the feedback from their direct reports is so crucial. There's a couple of ways you can get that. The first would be skip level meetings once a quarter, meet with everybody who reports into your direct report and get feedback on how things are going, what they could be doing better. A lot of companies use performance reviews. Three sixties are a really great way to make sure that you're getting a full picture of feedback, not just from senior, but also from people who are junior to that manager so that can be really effective. There are a lot of inputs, a lot of different data that you can look at to measure this. In the next section, we're going to be talking about all the different ways that you can use analytics. 6. Tracking Analytics & Action: Hi, I'm Sam Feldman I'm the head of People Analytics Gray Scalable, and we're going to talk about how to measure engagement and culture. So I think people get scared by the term analytics, HR data is basic reporting, it is understanding some basic numbers, a lot of times it gets called analytics, most of what is done in HR and you can have a very advanced knowledge of your organization in a very complex way of analyzing data without having to do anything fancy. So understanding percentages changes over time, how your demographics breakdown in different areas, that is usually sufficient to solve problems in your culture and organization. So getting a good idea of data behind people operations and culture is a great way to truly understand what's going on, so a lot of times, if you rely too much on anecdotal evidence, or if your startup executive who's relying on someone coming up to you screaming fire saying that the culture is terrible, but if you actually have data to backup whether that's true or not, that will actually help you plot a course and see what you can do next. So I feel like early on in my reporting and analytics career, people were a lot more skeptical, they'd ask you for data or they wouldn't ask, but sometimes if they asked you for data, it was just to prove the point that they were trying to make to start with. I think in the past couple years, HR, it's shifted a bit, where people are more understanding of data, and they come to you genuinely wanting an answer to one of their culture questions or employee survey questions, or how are we doing with compensation? They genuinely want the answer and how to want to act on what they find out. So the most common requests for reporting and analytics that I get, actually probably the number one that we handle the most is compensation. So are we paying people fairly? Are we paying people fairly for the job that they're doing? By gender, by ethnicity, especially with the new law that came out in New York. You can no longer ask people what they're making now as a way to make a judgment of what you'll give them as an offer. So people have to have a proactive way of being fair, which leads to people wanting market data on what is fair. So first let's talk about how you measure employee engagement. Before you do anything complicated, getting a good handle on your employee roster. So thinking about things like just the most basic, the number of employees you have by department, location, looking at things by gender breakdown. How many individual contributors or managers you have, and even looking at 10-year. So looking at how new your organization is, are there a lot of people who have been there for six months or less? Or a year or less? That might need things explained to them again. You'll get a good handle on the culture of your organization a lot of the time simply by understanding the people that work there, how long they've worked there, how many people they're managing in different location areas. So actually being fair and consistent is probably one of the biggest markers of culture. You can probably understand right from your employee roster where there actually might be some places that you're being unfair right off the bat. So there are different areas in your employee roster where you may be able to spot unfairness. One area of this is representation, so you might want to look at gender as you go up in level. At a lot of companies, it's very common unfortunately, but it's getting better, but it's very common as you go up in level in organizations to see the percentage of females drop off. That might be an area that culturally maybe the women in your organization feel like they're not getting promoted or there's not enough representation, and that's before doing any analysis or surveys, you might just have a basic understanding of that going into measuring employee engagement. It's also very important to pair data with actually understanding the business. As much as in my own job would love to hide behind an Excel spreadsheet, for most of the day without context, without talking to the business and talking to leadership, you can misinterpret things pretty badly. So if you're spotting something in the data, it's important not to press the panic button or act on it immediately, but to actually try and understand what's going on in the business. So if you see something in the data like no women being promoted into the director level in the marketing team, It's important to go have conversations with people about why that might be the case as opposed to putting a plan in place just based on the data alone. After you have a good handle on your basic employee data, one of the most common ways to measure employee engagement is through employee surveys. So before we even get into the questions that you ask the employees and how you analyze that data, there's a couple of basic principles of surveys that you want to follow. So one is that employees feel safe and the data is anonymous to appoint. You want employees to feel like when they take an employee survey, their responses are valued. In order to do so, in order to get the best feedback out of them and to get honest feedback out of them, they have to feel safe. What's very common is to set up surveys that are confidential but not anonymous. So there's someone in the background like me in HR who can see specific individual answers but will only report on them in aggregate and holds fast that even when reporting to executives, if there's an answer someone doesn't like, that person is never allowed to say who answered the question that way or give over the raw data file to those people. Another way that they do this, there's a couple of companies, for super safety, if you don't have an HR person that will safeguard this, what they'll do is they have companies that when you take a survey, they won't allow you to break out the data in groups smaller than five people. So if a group is smaller than four or five people, it won't let you break out the data so that you can't individually identify any employees. One of the really interesting markers of culture that people often don't think about is your response rate, so if you have an organization of a 100 people and only 20 people take the survey, let's say all those responses are positive, great, but the fact that only 20 percent took the survey also is telling you something. What are those other 80 percent and how do they feel? Is it because from a culture engagement standpoint, they're apathetic, or is it because everybody's happy and really busy? There's a lot to be investigated just by understanding your response rate. Another thing to keep in mind is that employees don't want to take a survey and have all the answers go into a black hole. There's a responsibility to make sure that at least at a very high level, aggregate level, you are reporting back to employees how people did and or presenting an action plan as a part of how they responded to the survey. There are tons of tools out there that can help you do this, what we've seen as the most common, and if you need prepackaged questions or support from an account perspective, the best thing you can do with companies like Culture Amp or CultureiQ, if you want a more do it yourself approach, SurveyMonkey or even Google Forms, lots of companies use Google forms if they have questions they already know they want to ask and they feel comfortable with how to oppose them. Then if you want to do surveys in a more regular interval as in set of like an annual employee survey, there are companies like Glint and TINYpulse where you can do that. So now we're going to look at how you would actually analyze and survey data and everything you're about to see is a sample, it is not based on any real company. So using just three example survey questions, I believe in my company's mission. I know what I need to do to be successful in my role, and my manager is accessible when I need him or her. These are just three different types of categories you can ask a question about. They are usually measured on a likelihood scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree, so employees have to pick one. If we were to analyze this, go out to employees and ask them to answer these questions and we got the results back. Let's say for simplicity sake, I'm collapsing agree and strongly agree into one category, and disagree and strongly disagree into another category, just know that the orange section is people who disagree, and what pops out right here is for the most part in the first and third question most people agree that's probably a pretty healthy response rate, but I know what I need to do to be successful. My role has a significant number of employees who disagree with that statement. So that from a very basic standpoint would be your next level of analysis. So let's look at, I know what I need to do to be successful in my role, and there's lots of ways you can divide it, but for this example, let's say I looked at lots of different cuts of this data and I found the most significant one was by level. So if you notice the trend here is that the more senior you get in the organization as you go up in level, the more likely people are to disagree with this statement and know how to be successful in their role. So the trend is the more senior you get in the organization, the less likely you know how to be successful in your role. This is an important stopping point here because you'd want to consider a potential action plan like a training for managers or goal setting so that everyone is aligned on success enroll. But similar with what I said before, you want to be able to talk to the business and understand why this is the case. So this is just a basic example of how you would view one question, diving in and figuring out what the real trends are and what potential actions you need to take. But if you consider the fact that in a standard survey you might ask 20 or 30 or 40 questions, trends and patterns will start to emerge or maybe your engineering team is not as happy as your marketing team and they need a different action plan. Or you might find that as you move up, there's a gender component. We see a lot in organizations, a tenure differential where people who have been with the organization for a year or two tend to be a little bit more bright item, bushy tailed about the whole situation, and people who've been there for a little bit longer require a little bit more care and action plan in terms of what's next. It's important that your employees feel like they're being heard, but there's also a level of care you need to take in what you present and how you present it. Making sure that if there's any individual identifying information in terms of open comments or feedback or certain departments that are very small, that you make sure that this is handled with care and that even though action plans go into place and you've heard them, there are certain results in terms of sharing company-wide that you need to be careful about and make sure that everybody feels safe and willing to give feedback again when you need to look at trends over time. So if there's something in your survey that you get an answer to that you really can't take action on, it's actually more communication plan. So having employees feel heard is important. One really common example in startups is an example we went over earlier as I feel comfortable in my workspace, or I can get my best work done in my workspace. A lot of time, startups are cramped or working out of coffee houses and they don't have the capital or the timing yet to be able to go move into a space that fits them. If you're someone who is presenting this to employees, being open and honest about it and saying, "We hear you, we know it's cramped, bear with us," making it part of your culture and knowing that everybody is in it together will get you past that point. The answer isn't necessarily spending a lot of money on a new lease, but it might be letting employees know that their heard, and long story short, don't be afraid of your data. The idea is not to have everybody strongly agree with everything nor should that be the expectation. There's always going to be people who disagree with different facets of the organization. The idea is to come up with an action plan that drives your culture forward as much as possible in the way that you want to see it grow. 7. Closing: Thanks for joining us today. We covered a lot of things talking about culture, where it comes from, what culture is, and the key qualities of good cultures. We heard from Lusha talking about employee engagement and how companies make connections with their people. Asha talked to us about how to plan for long-term success and designing your organization. Mekuse talked about how to make your manager successfully representing in using your culture. We heard from Sam Belbin about how to quantify and measure your culture and use analytics. When I think about culture, I think about teams and what makes teams strong. Any individual can do so much with their career and with their life but as a part of a team, they can do so much more. Having an engaging strong culture is a way that you can bring multiple people together, even thousands of people together and a single goal which can just accomplish so much. Culture can be a really powerful thing and really just making things happen for companies and for people. If you're a founder or someone running a business and want to do more for your culture and don't have the time yourself, you can find people. There is likely someone within your organization. They don't have to be a people operations professional who can help you with this and who will probably be highly motivated to do so. You can find other resources. You can find peers at other companies who've experienced this before who can probably give you great advice on how to do it and there's certainly a lot of professional resources out there you can go to get help with it. Building your culture is super important and if you can find someone to help you with that and take ownership of it, it'll be a great help. We hope this has been informative and useful. Thanks for listening.