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September 2022 Menlo Bits


Let's Get Radical.
Finding and retaining top talent with agile HR practices

Image from LHR Consulting
Growing and managing a team is a full-time job and it certainly isn't easy. To make it harder, traditional HR practices can lead to gaps in the overall interviewing-onboarding-growth path and limit positive cultural transformation within a company. This can be especially true if the company is in a position where they need to scale up quickly -- it can feel impossible to find enough talented new faces with the right cultural fit in a short time! So how can HR be made more agile, efficient, and effective all at the same time? 

While there's still a need for hiring, pay raises, and all the other functions of HR, Menlo's solution has been a series of radical diversions from traditional HR processes as highlighted in this article by Menlo CEO Rich Sheridan for The Journal of Business Agility. We have no dedicated HR team members, observe dozens of candidates at once when we hire, and prioritize seeing candidates work over asking interview questions to name just a few oddities! With our process, we're able to recruit virtually any number of new Menlonians that have shown both the right technical and soft skills in just a few weeks. By changing the way HR is done, a company can become more adaptable and build the culture they really want to foster -- we're the proof!
View the complete Emergence article for concrete ways your organization can revolutionize HR!

Come On, Don't Go Soft on Me
... or maybe you should

Image from Clothilde Chan Chuen Mo's LinkedIn Post on Hard & Soft Skills

Here at Menlo, we've always talked about valuing and continue to value soft skills and collaboration. This is why even Menlo team members who are working remotely continue to pair virtually all day long with a pair partner. But after many months of remote and/or hybrid work it's easy to understand why others might feel much more isolated than pre-pandemic, like they've gone days without even talking to anyone. Which means soft skills are so last year, right? Wrong.

According to a study by LinkedIn Global Talent Trends in this Forbes article, 89% of recruiters say soft skills are usually to blame when a new hire doesn't work out. Additionally, Deloitte predicts that soft skill intensive jobs will likely account for 2/3 of all jobs by 2030 -- growing 2.5 times faster than other jobs! This suggests that brushing up on soft skills is a good investment in anyone's career. In his article, author Robinson asserts that kindfulness, compassion, and empathy are the three key soft skills to recruit and retain employees. These tenants help employees to reduce work stress, boost productivity, and deal with failure in a positive manner.

Want to learn more about the soft skills "required to compete in a post-pandemic workplace"? Click here to read the full article!


Oh Baby...
The double life of parents everywhere

As everyone knows, within just the 12 short weeks of maternity leave required by FMLA, children grow up, find a partner, and are ready for kids of their own! Or, wait, maybe that was the timeline for a field mouse... Either way, sometimes that's what it feels like jobs expect to happen.

In this article by Emily Oster, she highlights the commonplace realities for many parents -- hiding pregnancies, never mentioning their kids at work, avoiding family photos -- that encompass so-called "secret parenting". With a society that puts parenting and work at odds, Oster highlights that many parents feel obligated to demonstrate their commitment to one by minimizing the other.

Not only does this practice harm workers for obvious reasons, but it harms companies too. Most notably, they miss out on valuable talent; women in particular are prone to simply leaving when they can't be accommodated. While obvious, but more difficult, solutions might be to increase leave pay or length, Oster suggests an easier option: just don't parent secretly. Colleagues and the culture will adapt, particularly if upper management leads by example, to people talking about their parental responsibilities and how that intersects with work.

In summary, Oster asserts: "We can’t fix problems that we pretend don’t exist; we can’t improve the life of parents at work if we pretend we aren’t parents."
Learn more about secret parenting in the workplace by reading the full article!

Love as a Business Strategy: Resilience, Belonging & Success

Author: Mohammad Anwar, Frank Danna, Jeffrey Ma, & Christopher Pitre

Recommended by: The Whole Menlo Team!

What would you do if your company culture was so toxic that the CEO's degrading emails to the team have been posted on Glassdoor... and that CEO was you?

This month, the Menlo team had a great Lunch & Learn presentation from Softway CEO Mohammad Anwar about the steps he took to transform his company and himself to create a culture that thrives on love. Mohammad's company had had over a decade of success, but like many good things that came to an end. The day over a third of his workforce was cut, with brutal impersonality, was one of Mohammad -- and Softway's -- darkest days. However, some deep introspection, the help of a football team snatching victory out of the jaws of defeat, and family ties helped Mohammad turn things around.

Now, years later, Softway believes in Love like Menlo believes in Joy and we thank Mohammad and co-author Frank for their virtual visit to share their story. If you're a fan of redemption, cultural transformation, and learning from mistakes, give their book a try!

From the blurb:

"In the face of ever-changing market conditions, leaders are looking for any advantage they can get.

And yet, almost every attempt to adapt produces the same results: inconsistent adoption, nonexistent innovation, and flagging performance.

To get lasting results, it's time for leaders to stop looking for quick fixes and start building a culture of love. Yes, love.

This is love as you've never seen it. This is a love that leans into the hard conversations. A love that is equal parts inclusion and accountability. A love that focuses on solutions rather than dwelling on problems.

A love that gets results."

Get a copy for yourself here!

Since the pandemic began, the Menlo pay and promotions system has gone through quite a few changes. While we've always had an emphasis on pay transparency and the team determining promotions, not just managers, originally it was quite organic. People would advocate for themselves or others to get a level review, feedback would be collected, and a level change decision (as well as opportunities for growth and areas of strength) would be presented to the candidate.

With everyone out of the office, it became harder to passively see individuals' contributions and growth. Additionally, how were we supposed to make sure people who wanted a review were able to get one when there wasn't really a process written down? As a result, project "Prosperity" was launched to make the promotions process more workable for remote and hybrid employees, as well as more structured for everyone.

In the most recent Prosperity experiment, COO James and Developers Kealy and Chris decided to add another layer of transparency. On the sticky note with their initials that tells their level, they wrote down a few goals and things they want to work on. For Chris, one goal consisted of being concise, while Kealy wants to help coaches learn to coach. As you can see in the photo, before the experiment was even officially announced other team members started following their example!

To quote Chris: "What better place for info about what someone is working on than the artifact that corresponds to that very thing"! We couldn't agree more, and can't wait to see how this helps our team members help each other.

Are You Our Next Menlonian? We're Hiring!

We're growing our team! Our next Extreme Interview is coming up toward the end of September. If you are interested in an in-person High-Tech Anthropologist® or Software Developer role in wonderful Ann Arbor, we would love to hear from you! Check out our Careers page and let us know you're interested by September 12th if you'd like a chance to participate.


Menlo Bits

The Menlo Bits is Menlo's monthly newsletter, filled with all the latest in science and technology trends as well as what's been happening at Menlo.