It Starts and Ends with People

Anthony Onesto, Chief People Officer at Suzy

“Without People We Have Nothing”

We have a company value at Suzy, “Without People We Have Nothing.” It truly works for us at Suzy since we depend on people within all facets of our company (especially during this new normal). People power our technology, run our marketing efforts, sell our software, take care of clients, make sure we are operating, and ensure that our people are happy. People answer questions on our platform that clients ask to learn more about what those folks are thinking. It’s a symbiotic relationship across our company. So, both symbolically and practically, without people, none of this works.

So when I first started with Suzy, we realized Suzy needed a framework that would govern how our leaders lead and how teams would interact with each other. I looked around, read tons of different practices and leadership books, and reviewed my previous coursework. I then read by Kim Scott. This was it, the simple model that would dictate how Suzy would operate, both from a leadership perspective, but also from team member to team member.

“Care Personally and Challenge Directly”

The premise is simple in its structure — care personally and challenge directly (always). It’s a two-axis diagram that I love for its simplicity (see below). I have read about leadership techniques and other methodologies that would require even the savviest leader to scratch their heads in confusion: boxes, potential, personality tests. For folks to adopt a leadership methodology, it has to be effective but also rooted in simplicity. This model meets both of those requirements.

“Assume Nothing & Validate Everything”

We also need to make sure we bring a bit of quantitative and qualitative analysis to our People Operations. Sometimes we seem to be shooting darts in the dark by taking guesses on what our teams want or listening to experts, but rarely truly listening to our own people. Suzy has a Ritz Carlton-like listening program to ensure that all People Operations team members and leaders listen very carefully to employees. We can pull out specific needs and wants out of these conversations, coupled with a quantitative approach through a survey system called Peakon.

We combine these two efforts and attempt to not only surprise and delight our teams, but also provide them exactly what they want and need at the moment they need it. It would be counterintuitive and a bit hypocritical for a company built on getting real-time feedback from consumers to not use the same mechanism to understand the needs of its team members. We like to say “Assume Nothing & Validate Everything,” which is expressed in all our People strategies.

Feel free to contact me for more information on people operations and how we’ve been managing through this uncertain time.

Anthony Onesto, Chief People Officer at Suzy, contributing to a panel discussion on People Operations



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