What I’m Learning About

People @ Work

This space is a running tab of my constantly evolving view of People-related topics @ work—inspired by the great people I’ve worked with and the words I’ve digested across the web.

Fundamentally, I believe any People function should take a design mindset to its work: deeply understand the audience, keep it simple (which is rarely easy), and create beautiful journeys and experiences for Candidates, Employees, and Customers. I also believe any People function should move extremely quickly and learn through tests/experimentation.

Companies are complex systems, and the people within carry an enormous cognitive load. As such, the People function should do everything in its power to create clarity and help people (and as a result, the organization) learn faster.

The People function should discuss and debate the second and third order effects of the decisions it considers and the programs it designs and implements.

On Learning


Create new wiring—changing existing wiring is much more difficult

Experiential (simulations, exercises)

Driven by customer (broadly defined) demand

Create the space for learning to occur (safe environment, schedule time/venues/topics, observe-feedback-reflect-path forward)

Move folks from unconsciously incompetent to unconsciously competent

Talent development through: High-impact challenges + high-impact connections

Feedback as oxygen to learning

On Communication

Tops-down, bottoms-up, side-to-side; need it all


High frequency

Multiple mediums

Power of three (clarity, focus)

Don’t discount the messenger—but the messenger still matters

Can only underdo, not overdo

On Leadership Development

Leaders inspire and energize

People Managers as mini-CEOs

People Managers as Multipliers

People Managers as the ultimate point of leverage

Create space for People Managers to build a community/support each other

Transition from Individual Contributor to People Manager 1) is not natural 2) requires support 3) is not for everyone 4) shouldn’t be the only path to a promotion

Employee survey = measure of the environment People Managers create

On Hiring

Shared ownership between Hiring Managers and Recruiters

Hire for intelligence (critical thinking, creativity, clarity of thought, learning potential)—the world is changing quickly

Assessing Candidates: knowledge = ability to recite/explain experiences + intelligence = ability to demonstrate approach + thought process to new context-specific scenarios

Assessment Process: screen, past behavioral interviews, role-specific challenge, context-specific scenarios, culture interview

Structured interviews

Project manage a search like you would an implementation; work towards a date/go-live

Every hire is a unicorn

Interviewers should be strong in what they’re asked to assess

Find ways to assess passion, curiosity, grit (all impact learning potential; ask people what they read and who they talk to)

The market for talent isn’t endless

Build teams of spikes; a team of different strengths

On Compensation

To a certain extent, have to pay to play

Never enough; people won’t not talk about it so you can’t sweep it under the rug

Can’t be the differentiator

Incentivize certain things to create more clarity—or remove everything else (it’s possible to help people prioritize through compensation)

People will protect what they’re paid for

Pay for potential

Pay reflects the importance of that individual to your company and team

On Career Paths

It’s not a path—it’s a lattice, jungle gym, tour of duty

Paint the picture—grow faster here than elsewhere, so find the role and context to make that happen

Clarity around roles, titles, competencies (depends on the audience, but keep it simple)

On Performance Management

Real-time feedback

Focus on strengths — strengthen strengths


Disconnect from compensation

On Talent Reviews

Customize a framework for your company (9-box, etc.; use the right language)

Understand what capabilities you have today and what capabilities you will need tomorrow to have a chance at realizing your company’s mission

Attendees: People Managers (know the individual), Senior Leaders (know the mission, strategy, and customer needs), People Teams (facilitators, ask the right questions, help with development plans, understand the talent market, advise on org design)

On Org Design

Optimize for: information flow, learning, apprenticeship, customer demands

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