Last week, the Kitchener-Waterloo tech community was excited to welcome the Netflix HR Guru Patty McCord. As keynote speaker at Communitech's Tech Leadership Conference, Patty's talk was crammed with authenticity, humour and incredibly valuable lessons. Among many gems, her thoughts on retention really hit home.
While most tech companies point to employee retention as a measure of successful HR and leadership, Patty dismissed this notion entirely. She sought to make Netflix a great company to be from.
"Most tech companies have a four-year vesting schedule and try to use options as ‘golden handcuffs; to aid retention, but we never thought that made sense. If you see a better opportunity elsewhere, you should be allowed to take what you’ve earned and leave. If you no longer want to work with us, we don’t want to hold you hostage."
Tech companies evolve, and as they grow they hire people who believe in the mission, and who are great at the things that need to be done. At the same time, talented people move into roles where they get to accomplish important things. The move to where they are valued and where they get to use their strengths. As long as these objectives are being met, everything is great - but as soon as a company can't utilize your best talents, it's time to move on!
The growth of a company is a journey, and so is every individual's career.
Expecting that the changing needs of your business will align perfectly with the evolving strengths and career goals of any one individual is unrealistic. At various points along the way you need people with different strengths. You need innovators, builders, tactical execution experts, change leaders, and people who can scale-up process and operations. These are often very different humans.
Yet leaders can take it personally when an employee leaves to pursue the next evolution on their path. Even when that next step doesn't exist in their company or if they as managers have failed to discuss future plans. Many people feel stuck in companies that can no longer utilize their best abilities. When employees feel under-utilized they becoming disengaged - without realizing that it is ok, and not disloyal, to seek growth and fulfillment in another setting.
An employment relationship isn't like a marriage - where ideally the two parties grow and evolve in tandem. A business will grow and an employee will also grow but not always in the same trajectory. Unlike a marriage, it is ok to just be good at the first 2 years, and then move on.
So how does a company manage this? How can employers encourage people to follow their path without the trauma of turnover that disrupts the business?
The answer is in conversations that are transparent, honest and safe.
Imagine if your managers and teammates could talk openly about their career ambitions and their strengths, and the needs of the business. If each employee knew that their best talents were needed and valued, and that their career goals would be fulfilled - of course they'd stay. And the employer would have the ability to tap into their employees strengths to help grow the business.
Without a manager fearing that the employee will resign without notice, or the employee fearing for the near-term security of their job, everyone could work together to ensure that there was minimum disruption - to the business and to the individual's employment. There is a lot of anxiety around the "what if" possibility of an open conversation revealing that there may soon need to be a parting of the ways. This might seem like a big leap of trust, and perhaps unrealistic, but the alternative is surprise resignations, and unfulfilled, disengaged or insecure workers.
So take a small leap at least. To the leaders, talk to your people about their strengths, and how (or if) they can do what they are best at. Talk about career goals and whether you can offer growth in ways that matter. And to every employee, know what you are best at and identify the areas you want to grow - then talk to your leaders. Whether your paths align or not, everyone will more quickly and happily reach their destination.
Tom Kane joined Virtek in December as VP Global Sales. As an international sales leader with extensive experience in growing and mentoring teams, he was excited to apply his learnings to help Virtek continue to grow and compete on a global level. A few months into the new role, we caught up with Tom to hear about why he joined Virtek, why they are poised for global success and how to scale a sales organization.
Sean Erjavec is the new EVP Sales at Bridgit. As a scale-up sales leader with global experience, he is responsible for building a team to drive revenue growth for this exciting KW start-up. Now 3 months into his new role, we talked to him about why he made the move and his approach to sales leadership.
Recently a friend and local tech exec met with some top engineering students, and learned that as many as 60% had plans to accept jobs with tech companies in Silicon Valley. He asked a very interesting and complex question"What can we do to convince them to stay local and build a career here?"
Moving to Canada is an important decision that brings with it the daunting task of finding a job that matches your experience level while simultaneously challenging and inspiring you. But how do you find that perfect fit? How do you make the right connections?
In tech hubs across North America, the success of innovation ecosystems hinge on start-up culture, where ideas and creativity that are free to blossom without the constraints of politics, red tape or inertia that exist within most big companies. And as these small and nimble companies emerge we see that they can disrupt existing markets, offering compelling solutions to customers, and exciting career opportunities for top talent, making it tough for large companies to compete.
So, if you are leading an established big company, how can you stay on top of the technology impacting your industry? How do you develop innovative product ideas, or compete for talent that wants a creative work environment? It's likely that the very things that make your enterprise successful (the structure, process and policies that you need to be stable) will also stifle creativity and impede innovation.
This is the quandry that gave rise to the Innovation Outpost. Clever execs from forward thinking big business are buildings teams of employees who don't fit the corporate mold. Working outside the corporate environment, in eclectic offices located in the midst of the start-up ecosystem, these teams are building prototypes, challenging old assumptions and developing a unique culture.
Here is how Communitech has described the Corporate Innovation program that is growing in Kitchener-Waterloo:
The Communitech corporate innovation program is designed to help you harness your innovation potential by taking advantage of external models to supplement internal strategies. It allows you to shift your big brand culture and think like a startup, tap into fresh talent and ideas, create unlikely connections, speed up prototyping and significantly reduce the cost and risk associated with trying new things—all while staying true to your brand.
Companies like GM, Fairfax, Canadian Tire, Canon, TD, and Deloitte have invested in this innovation strategy, and the results are starting to come together in real measurable ways - for customers, employees, shareholders and for the start-up ecosystem as a whole.
Artemis Canada is proud to partner with Communitech and their Corporate Innovation Partners, to identify leaders within the community who can spearhead and manage the various Innovation Outposts. If you'd like to learn more about these unique and exciting opportunities, take a look at the general leadership profile and reach out to Kristina for more information.
A lot can happen in two years, especially in the move-fast-and-break-stuff world of tech. In Kitchener-Waterloo, the tech scene is growing more robust by the second.
The past two years have seen the evolution of innovation outposts at Communitech, attracting big brands like GM, Fairfax, and Canadian Tire into the region to actively participate in the startup ecosystem. Add that to B and C series announcements ringing out every time you turn around, the 350-person Google engineering office, and more than 45 startups with a combined workforce of 800 people setting up in the downtown core.
And what’s a growing tech scene always hungry for? Talent.
It’s no coincidence that Artemis Canada was founded two years ago to support and help build the innovation ecosystem. With more than 15 years of recruitment experience, Kristina McDougall saw an opportunity to work with a laser-focus on executive search roles for tech startups in KW. “The needs of innovative companies are unique,” says McDougall. "They're moving fast and often require very specific skills and experienced leaders who will get them to the next big milestone ahead of their competitors. Being part of the Waterloo Tech ecosystem has been fascinating, as we've been able to partner with companies at all stages of their evolution - from development and commercialization of breakthrough technologies, to the building of serious enterprise technology businesses."
A clear reflection of the growing startup scene and it’s increasing need for A-player talent, Artemis has been growing right alongside it. With reach that expands across Canada and the US, the team recently moved to a new office in uptown Waterloo, a beautiful home renovated into a boutique office space.
Today, Artemis Canada is hosting an Open House for friends and partners in the community to celebrate 2 years of success and their move to a new office at 22 Regina Street N.
“This new space really reflects our personality. The team feels at home, and it's great for collaboration." says McDougall "We're also situated right in the heart of Waterloo - in the middle of a fascinating, fun and fast moving community. We can't predict what incredible innovations and businesses we'll be helping to build over the next decade, but we know for certain that we're in the right place for success."
We are a boutique executive search firm exclusively serving Canada’s Innovation Economy.
Our partners are the inventors, builders and leaders who are changing our world, enriching the lives of their teams, strengthening their communities and delivering valuable innovations to global marketplaces.
"I have worked closely with Kristina for approximately 15 years, reaching out to her whenever we are searching for the hardest to find skills. She understands the industry, she’s smart, she listens to exactly what we need, and she never wastes our time. Kristina, and the Artemis team, deliver time and time again. When we need an external recruiter, I find it hard to work with anyone else!"
Pete Devenyi, VP Global Software