Not Just HR: Why Every Tech Company Needs People Operations

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Recently GoodData’s CEO and founder Roman Stanek wrote a piece in SIIA’s Vision from the Top: 3 Steps to Recruiting and Retaining Top Tech Talent. In the article, Roman makes the case for building a strong culture, differentiated corporate identity and the underlying infrastructure to make all this happen--a modern People Operations Organization.

At GoodData, we’re building our own People Operations organization, and this team is embedded in both setting strategy and defining an exceptional employee experience. What we’ve learned is that every technology company can benefit from this approach--and really, every company should.

Why Do We Need People Operations?

Technology companies today are growing at record speed. To keep up, we need an “all hands on deck” mentality. Everyone must be engaged in a shared plan, especially when scaling the organization. Companies need a team with a bird’s eye view--one that is specifically tasked with identifying organizational gaps and opportunities and can build the strategy to take action.  

The technology job market is increasingly competitive--in the Bay Area, GoodData and so many of our customers are in the most competitive technology job market in the world. Employees have plenty of options. Why should yours be the best one? We need to get strategic about how we scale and shape our organizational cultures.

What Does It Take?

Who you fire, hire and retain is one of the biggest factors in predicting future success. The team that owns this process must understand business goals, market trends, and must partner internally for strategic retainment. But it’s not just about firing and hiring--in high-growth technology companies, People Operations plays a critical role in implementing the strategies to promote cross-functional alignment, a unified corporate vision and more.

People Operations must have the authority to affect change. Executive sponsorship and engagement from the highest levels is required to move the needle. At GoodData, my greatest ally is our CEO. Without support from him and the rest of senior leadership, nothing we do would be possible. But it’s not People Operations or executives’ responsibility alone--success requires a top-down and bottom-up approach and engagement from the entire organization.

 

 

What Is GoodData Doing?

At the beginning of 2014, I joined as GoodData’s first Chief People Officer. My goal was to make our company one of the best places to work in the world. It was a thrill to begin this journey with GoodData, but I won’t lie--People Operations is hard work.

Over the last six months, we’ve focused on three main areas: a listening campaign known internally as GoodVoices, manager development, and the employee lifecycle. Here’s what we’ve accomplished:

  1. GoodVoices. We started GoodVoices to better understand employee experience and the kind of culture we wanted to build. We conducted focus groups with each function across our five offices, led a global engagement survey, and identified eight key initiatives the whole company could support: Clear goals and Alignment, Collaboration and Communication, Connect our Czech and US Offices, Recognition/Championship Mindset, Helping People Succeed, SF Office Rebranding, Ownership. We translated these learnings into organizational initiatives and programs that are now led by Leaders, Manager-Champions and People Operations  We also developed six core values that are embedded in all our business and people processes: Customer Obsession, Excellence, Transparency, Innovation, Ownership, and the GoodData Family.​
  2. Manager Development. We learned from GoodVoices that employees wanted clearer goals, more feedback from managers, and better career development. We instituted a series of leadership roundtables that bring in outside speakers, customers, and guidance from our own employees. In those roundtables, managers learn leadership best practices, share knowledge with their peers, and reflect on their own leadership capabilities. And most importantly, the goal is to create a community of leaders and provide strategic direction based on external market perspective and customer needs.
  3. Employee Lifecycle. We needed to improve the employee lifecycle, focusing on every part of this journey, from recruiting and onboarding to career development, coaching, mentoring and retention. To do this, I built a team with skills that matched each one of those areas. These professionals have designed custom and often function-specific programs to improve every part of the employee experience. My current People Operations team is one of the best I’ve ever known. I treasure the opportunity to work with my cross-functional colleagues to build and grow GoodData, one employee at a time.

As I work with the GoodData family, my hope is that other companies are adopting similar approaches. Will you build the next People Operations organization?

June 26, 2014
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