4 Resolutions for Your People Team in 2017
Sarah Schraer, Former Office Manager
Resolutions aren't just for the gym. Here are four ways to rocket your people team to success in 2017.
Last year, the people team at Viget set out on a mission to become better at our jobs and more effective as a team. We learned some lessons along the way that happen to make great resolutions for other people teams looking to grow in the year ahead.
1. Become “The People Team”- or “Admin Ninjas”, “People Ops”, or whatever wonderful term you’d like to use. Become more than just those people who perform a bunch of essential functions but don’t necessarily fit into any project or discipline team. In 2016 our People Team (made up of an Office Manager, Events Manager, Recruiter, and People Director), worked to define ourselves more as a team. We held monthly check-ins just like the PMs or Devs or any of the other teams at our company. We shared progress reports with our whole team and worked to define problems and possible solutions. Building this team structure helps create a support system to tackle the rest of your goals as a group.
2. Get to know your company really well - Knowing your peeps is an essential foundation for anyone in a people role. Being spread across multiple offices, like we are at Viget, can be a hurdle for bonding with everyone, but we work extra hard to make those connections happen. At our bi-annual all-company meetings, we make a concerted effort to talk with folks from the other offices-- that means pushing outside your comfort zone and not talking with your close group of colleagues. Connecting over beers and chocolate making (or painting, or mini golf, etc.) helps form trusting relationships that can lead to sharing of ideas and concerns. These shares turn into actionable items for our people team and in turn help to make the company a better place to work. In short, don’t underestimate the power of those valuable lunchtime chats. Forming bonds is essential to getting things accomplished on the people team!
3. Define goals throughout the year - not just at the beginning. At Viget, we have company-wide goals, team-wide goals, and personal goals. For the people team, these goals often run together and are fluid throughout the year as the company environment is influenced and changed.
For example, one of our company-wide goals for 2017 is growing all three of our offices. This is also a great opportunity to work on our goals of increasing diversity and strengthening team structures. And while our overarching goal of company growth will stay the same, we’ll continuously define what good candidates look like, who fits into Viget and therefore how the company culture grows and evolves.
In the tech industry, company benefits are a big deal and we’re always evaluating which benefits make sense for Viget. When industry trends, like taking Election Day as a paid holiday, arise, we take time to discuss whether or not this make sense for Viget. When staff have questions about existing benefits, we put our heads together on how to best proactively communicate the answers.
Cultivating a great company culture is a permanent fixture on our people team’s list of goals, but it’s probably the most fluid and dynamic of them all. One of the first things we check in with at our monthly meetings is the vibe of each office-- How is the mood? Are spirits generally high? What can we do to improve life at Viget? We’re not perfect, so sometimes the answer is that one of our offices is in a funk or a cloud of negativity. We work to flesh out what the cause could be (favorite colleague left the company? The office is always stifling?) and build a plan to make things better.
Working throughout the year to define and refine our goals helps our team keep a better pulse on what the company needs at any given time.
4. Add fresh ideas to events/meetings- Viget is 17 years old, which means we’ve had about 68 TTT events and somewhere around 850 Free Lunch Fridays. That’s A LOT of all company meetings. And we have a high retention rate- 60% of our staff has been at the company 3+ years-- which means most people at the company have attended at least 160 all-hands meetings. Suffice it to say, we think a lot about how to keep these meetings fresh and interesting.
After every company event, we have a retrospective meeting to discuss what went well and what could be improved. We use the outcomes of these meetings to make tweaks to future events. For example, in the retro meeting for our last TTT, we realized that we could do more prep ahead of time to get discussion topics vetted earlier. We hope this shift will help give Brian, our CEO, more time to prepare and let him focus the next TTT agenda on the topics people are most interested in discussing.. We’ll give this a try and see how it goes. Similarly, we’ve been working on ways to improve our Friday meetings by adding in “QuickShares” from coworkers about projects they’ve found interesting that week.
We add fresh ideas by shifting content to keep it interesting and engaging, but also by adding in fun elements to meetings. Sometimes this means scrolling Pinterest for S’mores bar ideas and sometimes it’s just adding a competitive twist to an activity we plan to do. These all-hands meetings are an important time for us to connect and realign as a company so keeping them new and exciting is essential to their success.
As a member of a people team, you probably spend a lot of your time thinking about how to help others. Your job, whether you’re a recruiter, or an HR person, or an office manager, centers on bringing others to success. In 2017, I encourage you to turn some of that energy inward, work through these resolutions, and bring your people team to even greater success.