Top Ten Things I Learned Working at ShipCompliant

#SquadGoals

I recently left my job in HR at ShipCompliant (acquired in April 2015 by Sovos Compliance) for a new opportunity.

I’ve been reflecting on my time at ShipCompliant over the past few weeks, and, while I learned more during my time there than I could ever capture in writing, I wanted to articulate some of the most powerful lessons. My hope is that these will be useful (or at least interesting) to others.

So, without further ado, here are the Top Ten Things I Learned Working at ShipCompliant.

  1. Values aren’t developed, they’re surfaced. The values themselves are important, but what really matters is your “commitment to running a values-led organization.”
  2. Cultivating an exceptional culture creates business results and gives you a competitive advantage in the marketplace, while the inverse is not necessarily true. Yes, great people want to be part of a “winning” (i.e. financially performant) team, but it’s not enough.
  3. The dichotomy between culture and strategy is false. Culture is a strategy, if you do it right.
  4. When it comes to hiring, you can: 1) hire the person who has the right talent and skill set for the role regardless of values fit; 2) hire the person who shares the organization’s values regardless of talent and skill set; or 3) hire the person with the right talent and skill set who also shares the organization’s core values. The first option is fatal to a values-driven culture, especially when you’re small. The second works if you’re willing to invest heavily in training and development. The third is hard to do and requires scaling a methodical, values-based hiring process. It’s also worth it. Every. Single. Time.
  5. The road to hell is paved with well-intentioned HR policies. If you find yourself writing a lot of policies, you either have the wrong people on the bus or you have the right people but are afraid to have the “real” conversation with them. A certain number of policies may be necessary for general clarity, but you can’t regulate your way into the culture you want.
  6. Going through an acquisition and resulting integration is one of the scariest and most difficult things you’ll face professionally, and — at the same time — can be the greatest learning opportunity of your career, if you let it. The challenges and changes will force you to grow and develop in ways you wouldn’t have otherwise. You will doubt your ability to get through it, but in retrospect, realize you wouldn’t trade it for anything.
  7. Relatedly, in any situation, you have a choice to be either a Victim or a Creator. Neither is necessarily right or wrong, but being a Creator is infinitely more fulfilling and definitely more fun.
  8. There’s something magical about a great dance party. And, as it turns out, it may not be magic at all; science says that dancing in a group helps create social bonds. For a well-connected team, you should aim for at least one dance party per quarter. Preferably with glow sticks.
  9. At its most fundamental level, HR is about two things: loving people and doing the right thing. Those two elements will get you 99% of the way there, in any situation. Same goes for leadership, regardless of the field you’re in: love + integrity…wins every time.
  10. If you don’t have the right people on your team, nothing else matters. Invest in getting the right people on the bus, in the right seats, and great things will happen. (Trust me; I was fortunate enough to witness it.)
The team at the 2016 DIRECT conference in San Francisco, before that evening’s epic dance party (see #8 on the list).