Enboarder, Recruiting Daily and Eventbrite Present
IRL is the New Black: How Eventbrite Elevated the Human Connection
[Ashley] Hey, everybody. Welcome. You're here for In Real Life is the New Black, How Eventbrite Elevated the Human Connection. We are touching on some incredibly important human aspects of the onboarding process, of hiring, of candidate retention, the whole box of dice. We have William Tincup and Elizabeth Pierce here with us today.
We have William with us today. He is the president of Recruiting Daily. He was proudly banned from Twitter for four whole months. This is like a record here, and has been blessed with intellectual sarcasm. You have so many bullet lists on your CV, William. Do you wanna tell us a little bit about yourself?
[William] Yeah, been in the business for long enough to know where some of the bodies are buried, and I'm really excited about talking and hearing Elizabeth's story, and if you wanna know more about me, just type my name into Google.
[Ashley] Thank you, William. And we have Elizabeth Pierce with us today, Global Director of Learning and Development at Eventbrite. She is our pro. Litigation Tech for six years and she has been in talent development for over 18 years. You have been all over. Do you want to introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about yourself, Elizabeth?
[Elizabeth] Yeah, I've been in Learning Development, Talent Development for over 18 years. I got started in Litigation Tech doing mock trials for Philip Morris, KOA, and Dupont, and was anticipating taking a break and dabbling in Learning and Development for maybe six months, and ended up staying 18 years. So, my heart sits in tech, and you can see that from the spaces that I've worked in since I moved to San Francisco 12 years ago. So, that's a little bit about me.
[Ashley] Well, we are so excited to do this with you today. We've been waiting for this day for months now, so I am gonna hand this over to you and William, and thank you again, everyone, for being here.
[Elizabeth] Our mission statement at Eventbrite is bringing the world together through live experiences, which is probably the coolest mission statement for a Talent Development, Learning Development individual.
Bringing people together through the live experiences, which actually creates memories and actually engages folks to do their best work and bring their best selves to the office and beyond, which is pretty amazing. So today, we're just gonna talk about a couple things that were not just Eventbrite, but other spaces that I've worked at in the past in terms of how we brought really cool live experiences together that actually made an impact on business.
Technology is shiny, but how you use it matters
[Elizabeth] So a lot of times I get questions at conferences around what platforms do you use? How do you use certain things?
Yes, there are amazing pieces of technology all over the place, and a lot of times it’s sort of, "oh, look at that piece. Oh, look at that."
So, there are all these shiny pieces of technology, but and how can I actually utilize them?
And one of the first things I've always suggested is don't think about the technology in terms of it's shiny, it's pretty, AI or VR. What are you actually gonna do with it?
Using tech to enable IRL onboarding experiences
Enboarder, for us, is a great example. We use Enboarder and we really wanted to have a great experience for the employees.
The moment that they sign their offer letter, we set off this amazing experience through Enboarder that actually brings people together all the way through the process and gets us to day one where it's an In Real Life experience for the employee to come into a particular office and just experience what our culture's like.
- How we do things, what are we passionate about?
- What's our mission statement?
- What are our vision statements?
- Where can the employee go – we call them Britelings – where can Britelings go to find resources and engage?
Make sure you aren’t just adopting [tech] because it’s shiny, but it really actually has a business reason and is engaging the employee.
Building excitement for day one
And one of the cool things is that we've actually embedded, is taking the In Real Life sort of scenario and making it engaging even prior to day one, with video welcomes from our CEO, a video welcome from their manager, just so they get excited about starting with us at Eventbrite.
Then when we hit on day one, it's just like they're super excited, they're stoked to be here, they're like, "when can I start? What's going on? I wanna meet my team. I wanna meet my buddy."
So, we try to make it super exciting going all the way through.
In terms of tech, make sure you aren’t just adopting it because it’s shiny, but it really actually has a business reason and is engaging the employee.
Start with a vision of what outcome you want, then look at technology
[William] So, Elizabeth. I love that you start with technology is important, but you've gotta get some other things in order, and I usually tend to refer to that as process or people, or maybe a blend of the two.
Some people call it micro experiences or moments of engagements or journeys. There's a lot of different phraseology for these things, but do you look at those things first and kind of map out what you want done, and then think of technology?
[Elizabeth] Absolutely. So, we map out our process, so we look at where we can actually make a bigger impact on certain things, then I actually link in the technology.
So, I'm like, "this is what I wanna do. Is there a piece of technology out there that allows me to do it or already does it?"
Also, if I come across something where it's like, "oh, I'm not finding the technology. Is there another piece of technology that I can actually hack to make it do something that I want it to?" So, there are two approaches to that.
[William] So, what's great about this is you already know the outcome, "I want it to do this," and then you go to the market, and you look around to see if you can find something that fits it, or you have to hack another tool, or get somebody to build it for you or whatever, but you have a very clear vision for what the outcome is.
[Elizabeth] Absolutely. 100%.
To hire the best person for the role, align job descriptions and hiring for business impact
[Elizabeth] When somebody starts on day one, that's awesome, they have a great experience. Then, we go into day two, and they're usually going into their role to start learning their job, and at that point, it's really important to understand, okay, great, they're in their job, we've hired them, they've met the requirements.
If we're two weeks in and we're like, "wow, this is not the right fit," we need to go back to the hiring. And so, like, "hey, because we didn't hire the right person for this particular role, now it's having an impact on the business."
In my head, I think about the amount of money that was spent trying to hire this person, you know, from a recruiting standpoint, time away from someone's desk to interview them, et cetera.
But I also look at, now they're here, and they've spent two weeks sitting in a training class, so that's money that we've spent to train these people in terms of the trainer, the materials.
This person, if they were sort of disengaged or they weren't really up to speed on what's happening, they may have been disrupting the class.
And then we have to off-board them, which actually takes time away from HR and all these other things.
So, I really look at hiring as how do you get the best person in the seat at the right time so that they can be successful going forward?
Want a great candidate experience? First, get the job description right
[William] It's a very similar mindset around price, quality, and speed, right? But we’ve got some experience-related questions.
What's your personal take on job descriptions as kind of an “experience” for candidates? What would be an optimal candidate experience?
[Elizabeth] It starts with the Hiring Manager working really closely with recruiting and HR to make sure that there's an accurate job description.
It's not like, "yay, come work for us. We have dogs in our office."
Okay, that's great, but there's gonna be work to be done.
So, I look at what's the best description for the role?
What do we really expect this person to do? Whether that's in the first 90 days or the first year.
Once we know that, we then work really closely with HR, Recruiting, Hiring Manager, in terms of:
- What competencies does this person need?
- What are the skill sets in terms of communication or resiliency?
- What are the things that this job actually really needs to be able to harness and do on a daily basis to make sure that we're actually interviewing to that particular aspect, too?
Job descriptions should match the realities of the work
[William] What's interesting is, how we get the job description right is kind of a collaboration between four different disparate groups of people, Sourcers, Hiring Managers, Recruiters, and HR, who, at least historically, haven't done a great job of communicating together about anything, much less about something as benign as a job description, and that's usually where we get it wrong.
We don't do a great job of creating the “this is the job” piece.
It's a combination of these things: these are the nice to have, these are the must haves, and casting that out as a very real job description so that when the person goes through the process and gets hired, that they can do the job.
Start by asking what impact the new hire will have on the business
[Elizabeth] Don't go and try to hire somebody just to hire somebody. Like, "oh, I need another person." Think, "well, why do you need the other person?" Which should define the job description and the competencies, right?
[William] That's right. Everyone talks about their competency model, very few people actually operate a business based on a competency model.
One of the worst case scenarios is when you're trying to replace a person.
Like, Jason the Office Manager, who had accounting experience, events experience, SEO experience, and EA or Executive Assistant experience, and, oh, also was a creative phenomenon.
Okay, now we're trying to replace Jason. Do we draft a job description that has all of those things in it?
Or to your point, what's the business impact? Let's draw that. Let's create that. Let's forget Jason for a moment. Let's go get this person that will create this impact.
[Elizabeth] Yeah, exactly, and it starts with what's the business strategy for the next six months or year or whatever it is? And then, work backwards from there. What do we wanna achieve? And then, look at the role and then maybe look at Jason at the end.
Are you just gonna throw people at a problem and then hope they figure it out?
Rushing to hire
[William] Yeah. Do you think we rush? You're in the Valley, so things are just crazy and I get it, but do you think we rush to try to hire without giving all of what you and I just talked about full thought?
[Elizabeth] Yeah. There was a company that I worked for that grew from one employee to 17,000 in under seven years. Why would you?
The fact that it grew that quickly is amazing, but then when you look at it, were the right people in the right roles?
Were they sharing information in the right way?
Were they actually working at their best?
So, I would just consider that. Are you just gonna throw people at a problem and then hope they figure it out? Or are you gonna be very strategic around we need to hire people with these three skill sets because we need to meet this strategic goal for the business in the next six months?
Onboarding starts when somebody actually signs their offer letter...orientation happens within that
How long onboarding should take
[William] In an optimal situation, how long do you think onboarding should take?
[Elizabeth] Well, it depends on your definition of onboarding versus orientation.
Onboarding starts when somebody actually signs their offer letter. Someone's signed their offer letter and they're off and running.
I would say orientation happens within that, and that might be your day one in the office scenario. But onboarding continues throughout.
You can actually consider, especially in the state of California, that onboarding continues all the way through the second year if you take into account the harassment training that’s required every two years.
90 days is a good rule of thumb, but the first six months and year would be where you're really learning a lot about the culture and how it works.
The onboarding timeline
That's an extreme example, but I would say that when you go through your onboarding, it's really about listening, learning, engaging, asking questions, being prepared to do your best work with the job that you were hired to do, and that usually takes the first 90 days, from my experience.
- So, you're listening and learning for the first 30.
- Day 60 is when you're actually performing at a medium level, you're performing at the base rate that's required for further learning and you're still making mistakes.
- Day 90 you should be really into your job, you should be really steady,
- Within the first six months, you should actually be performing your job at the level that is maybe slightly above or right at where it needs to be. And that’s a good timeline because during those first six months, you're actually learning the culture, too.
So, I may be a super expert on something, but I'm not a super expert on something when I walked into Eventbrite. So, I had to learn about the culture there.
So, I would say 90 days is a good rule of thumb, but the first six months and year would be where you're really learning a lot about the culture and how it works.
Being transparent with expectations
[William] I love that model. Do you share that with candidates? That's the expectation that you're looking for that you'd like to see out of them?
[Elizabeth] We talk through it. With one of our divisions, new hires have 30 days of immersion training, and you're really into your training, what you're doing, you need to learn this, we're very collaborative, we're very transparent, we try very hard to make sure that people are receiving feedback in the moment and we're going through the process of their learning and their onboarding process. So, we try to be really open around it.
I've worked for other companies where it's like, you need to meet this goal within 10 days of start date, you need to meet this goal within 20 days of start date, and it's really hardcore, and there are companies that are very much like, you need to memorize this and do it right.
I wonder what their turnover rate is for that particular phase, and are people really truly engaged at that point?
Sometimes it just takes somebody to say, "Hey, this is what I was observing. What do you think?"
Helping people get better at their jobs
[William] Do you give the person the option to work on strengths and make their strengths stronger? Or is it about working on their weaknesses? Do you have a philosophy behind how you interact with employees around training?
[Elizabeth] My personal opinion is that employees should really focus on learning their job if they've just started.
If they are further into their position, I get them to look at things like:
- What are my strengths and what are other things that I can actually contribute to the business? What are things I'm interested in?
- Are there career development opportunities that I can stretch to that can help the company or help me, help with certain aspects of the company?
- When I look at my strengths, what are some things I may not be really great at doing, but I wanna get better at?
So for instance, there's a wonderful person that works with me and she is pretty much an intermediate speaker in a particular language, and she actually asked if she could do a stretch goal of expanding her knowledge on that particular language so that she could communicate better with some of the offices that speak that language, and I was fully supportive of that.
Absolutely, we'll invest in you. Please, go off and learn this, and one of the first things she's doing is she recognized she was not as strong as she could be to hold conversations in the language.
So she's taking a current eLearning that's in English and she's translating it to that particular language, and then she's working with a couple of people in that particular region, saying, "Hey, can you help me spot check this, and help me grow and learn and make sure that I'm providing the right information, so that it actually helps them learn about the process?"
So, it's pretty awesome. You should be able to identify your weaknesses, but also elevate your strengths at the same time, and take those weaknesses and make it more of strength going forward.
How to identify strengths and weaknesses
[William] Do you think, as an individual, that people can identify their strengths? If I'm honest, do I really know what my strengths are or my weaknesses are? Or do we need to use third-party testing and validation and all that type of stuff?
[Elizabeth] I think you should just ask for feedback.
[Elizabeth] Yeah. One of the most brutal changes in my career occurred like this. I was gonna go to law school and my dad sat me down and said, "You're 22 years old. You should go be a paralegal for a year, see if you like it."
And I was six months into being a paralegal and the partner I was working for, she pulled me into her office and she said, "you are not good at this job." I was like, "What?"
[William] Let me take your dream and now I'm going to kill your dream. I'm going to stomp on your dream.
[Elizabeth] And I was like, "Are you saying I'm not a good paralegal and I should be a lawyer? Or are you just saying I'm not good at this?"
[William] You should never go into a law firm ever. Even if you're going to deliver a package, just avoid law firms. Never go in one ever again. Oh, my god.
[Elizabeth] Yeah. I was like, "Okay. I'm not sure if I should start crying or if I should be mad. I'm not sure what feeling I should have at this point," because two seconds later, she says, "You're really good at understanding this database and all these technologies sitting in a courtroom that none of us understand."
And so, she basically assigned me to work on a case with Dupont. This was when the O.J. Simpson trial was happening. She was like, "you need to go figure out how to use the stuff, and you seem to understand it better than any of us here."
So, I went in and started doing that and I loved it, but she saw that I had, the weakness was I actually kind of hated looking for pleadings and doing letters and things, but I really loved sitting in front of the computer and teaching people how to actually utilize the technology that we had in the firm.
So, sometimes it just takes somebody to say, "Hey, this is what I was observing. What do you think?"
If more companies actually took an interest in their employees' interests and passions, there probably wouldn't be as much turnover.
Why you should ask about your people’s interests
[William] This is so genius. It's just great to hear that story, but also understand that we've all had that happen to us at one point in our life. We think that the line is going in this direction, and then all of a sudden life teaches us, "no, the line is a different direction."
Here's a good hack the audience can think about folding into their processes. So, you learn things in sourcing and in recruiting and hiring, and one of the things that I would advise you is to ask questions of candidates.
- What do you think some of your strengths are?
- What do you think some of your weaknesses are?
Most important, and Elizabeth has said this word like five times, is interest. Ask them about their interest.
And here’s the good part: ask them about their interests outside of work. Okay, so it's cigar rolling, it's scotch tasting and hang gliding and learning Spanish, whatever.
All of this stuff that's outside of work, because what you're gonna find is if you get to the onboarding phase and you've collected that data, you can then validate, "hey, you know, you told us a while back that you're really into hang gliding, which is fascinating. So, is that true?"
A, so let's validate that.
B, let's actually find a way to put something in front of your interest. So, this is where learning and development starts moving away from being compliance and policy-driven checklists. So we’re asking the individual, "Hey, what would you like to learn?"
There's work learning, things that will make you better at your job, and that's fantastic. So implement some great content and processes behind that.
But at this day and age, especially with the generations of millennials and Gen Z, I would also put personal interest at least at the same place, or even above work interest, so that you engage them, not just about work, but you engage them on the things that they care about.
So, first of all, Elizabeth, I'll give you a moment to respond to that. Do you see any of that in your work or in your organization at all?
The Creator culture at Eventbrite
[Elizabeth] At Eventbrite, 100%. So, we have folks who are actually Creators here that work here. So, we may have somebody who's in finance who actually runs a particular Creator event on the side because that's what they're passionate about. I think that's pretty amazing.
We also really support our Creators in terms of, "Hey, let's all go out and support this particular Creator because they're doing something cool." There's a woman who works in San Francisco and she teaches Zumba once a week. That's what she does and that's what she loves to do.
So, we celebrate anyone who's a Briteling that wants to Create or engage and we really look for what are you personally passionate about? What do you love to do? And we try to celebrate that throughout the whole company.
We also bring in Creators for panels, to tell us more about what you do and how you do it. What are you passionate about? Those are actually the really cool things that I think just bring that in real life experience. So, not only just what are you passionate and excited about? But also, how do we celebrate that within the office? Which is great and super fun.
To engage and retain, treat your people like people
[William] Well, this is how we hack engagement. This is also how we hack the retention of our top talent is we talk to them on a level about, "Hey, there's the work-work, and there's gonna be training and learning and development and we're gonna surround you with great people around the work-work, but you're not just a being that does work.
You're a being that has passions, and interests. We wanna support those things, the whole you, if you will. We wanna support those things, as well."
If more companies actually took an interest in their employees' interests and passions, there probably wouldn't be as much turnover.
[William] And this also gets into a lot of the conversations around difference, right? Belonging in a company and having a sense of belonging.
But there’s a lot of work that’s needed to get the company over the hump of, listen, this person wants to learn about cigar rolling or scotch tasting. (I'm talking about my own habits, of course.) It might not be directly relevant to their work, but those things will make them want to work and feel like the company cares enough about my passions, and so I too care about the company and its passions. So, I think there's a real cool relationship between the two that we gotta get a company's CFOs and CEOs in particular, we gotta get them to see that light.
[Elizabeth] Yeah, if you wanted to, if you worked at Eventbrite and you wanted to show people how to properly taste whiskey, you could come in and do that, or how do you roll a cigar properly? You could come, you should be like, "I wanna do this," and we would set it up, and anyone who wants to come, they could come, internally. If you're passionate about something and you wanna share it with the company, you totally are welcome to do that.
Make sure that the managers have a story and understand where their new hires are coming from.
Aligning with Hiring Managers
[William] I love that. So tell us about aligning with Hiring Managers. I know people are gonna have questions.
[Elizabeth] We already kinda talked about this in terms of the hiring standpoint and kind of what's expected, but also making sure the Hiring Managers are super aware.
LinkedIn did a video that's called, we call it, when we talk to managers, we call it Don't Be That Hiring Manager, but it's this little video, it's like Landon and Brandon, and it talks about these twins who are actually the same person, the same actor, but it talks about the different experiences of the two individuals.
It is the funniest video ever because every time I've ever shown it to a Hiring Manager, someone will say, either, "That's me," or they'll say, "Oh, my gosh. I'm so glad I don't do that, but my manager did that when I showed up."
It's really interesting to watch the ah-ha moments of Hiring Managers, but also making sure that the managers have a story and understand where their new hires are coming from.
And that goes back to that personal experience and just getting to know your person, the person that's coming in that you've hired, not just, "I've met them three times. I already know them," but like, "Hey, what's gonna be the best way to get them off on the right foot?" And they continue to engage with them.
Let's talk. How fast can we get real with the candidate, and how fast can they get real with us?
Helping managers get real with their new hires
[William] What I love about that is how quickly you can get to real talk.
"Hey, listen. Where do you thrive? Where do you fail? Let's just get to that."
For me, I fail when I try to be somebody else. I can look back through my life and look at the moments of mass failure and it's when I tried to be somebody else.
So, talking to a Hiring Manager about that and having real talk about the job.
And on the Hiring Manager’s side, instead of it all being a positive story about the job, I think Hiring Managers and Recruiters need to talk more about the realities of the job.
Listen, here's the deal. We work these hours, and this is the culture, and these are the values, and these aren't just words on the wall, or anything like that. This is actually how we work. This is gonna be the expectation. If this doesn't fit you, then the job's not gonna fit you. So, let's talk. How fast can we get real with the candidate, and how fast can they get real with us?
When turnover happens, learn, and be graceful
[Elizabeth] Yeah. I totally agree with that. I think it's also understanding if somebody wasn't a good fit, what were the reasons? Why were they not? Why did they leave? What was happening? Did we not understand them or understand where they are and not give them support? Did we not understand where they're coming from and not realize that upfront they were probably not a good fit?
[William] Yeah. And I think that the strategy of hire slow, fire fast, it's kind of more or less a '90s strategy of hiring.
I think if we know that we've made a mistake. No blame. Sources, Recruiters, Hiring Managers, HR, candidate, let's just take the blame and put it off to the side and just go, "A mistake has been made. This person, this job, not going to work. Is there another place where this person could possibly really thrive? Okay, yes, no. If no, then we've got to actually have a heart to heart."
We need to have that discussion your boss had with you about the legal profession, we've gotta have that discussion. It's kind of a fierce conversation but we've gotta have that conversation and then we need to be graceful, in allowing them to do whatever's next.
We romance them on the front end, and we do such a great job of romancing them into the job and into the brand, into the company, and into the role. But when things get rocky, or maybe we find out they're not as great, or the fit didn't match up like we thought it would, then we're not as graceful.
The Employee Life Cycle
[William] Tell us about the employee life cycle. I actually wanna hear your thoughts as to the different moments along that life cycle where you think things are important, especially as it relates to person to person and doing things and creating moments with people as they go through that life cycle.
[Elizabeth] Yeah. We think the first moment would be, when you're talking to your best friend and you're like, "I love working at Eventbrite, and I know you're not happy with your current job. Would you consider working at Eventbrite? We may not have a job opening, but if something comes along, here's something, would you be interested?"
So, I consider the Recommendation to Apply as part of the life cycle.
If you have a good experience with the employee and they're really excited about their job and what they're doing and their culture and their work, they're gonna recommend somebody else to join them in what they're doing, which is amazing to me.
I always consider that the first step, and then somebody applies for the job. What's their experience when they actually apply for the job? Did the Recruiter reach out? Did they talk to them? All the basic things.
Then, once they sign the offer letter, what's the experience then? Do I sign the offer letter and I start in two weeks and I don't hear anything from anybody? What kind of experience is that? Do I start second-guessing my decision to join?
There's day one where you start. How is the excitement rate of that particular aspect? What's the real-life experience of, "I've joined, I'm excited, this is so much fun."
It almost parallels a festival in terms of recommending a musician that you might wanna hear, buying a ticket, going to the event.
I would then push over to your first 90 days where you're still super excited, you're still in the honeymoon phase, you're learning a lot, you're excited to continue and really strive and really contribute to the business, and do your best work.
Usually, around year one is where it's like, okay, now we need to start talking about my career development.
- Where do I wanna go?
- Where do I wanna see things develop?
- Where are the things that I wanna actually really stretch to and where's my next role?
- Do I wanna consider my next role as I wanna be a Senior Manager, or do I wanna be a Supervisor, or I wanna be a Director.
- What are the skills that I need to develop to get to that next role?
And then from there on, from one year to whatever time frame you might have within a company, there's the career development, career growth. Maybe you’re undertaking internal development, going to a class for new people managers. Or you’re doing external coaching or learning how to engage individuals at a Director level.
This is what happened to me. My manager was like, "you need to go start talking at events." So, I'm like, "I don't know." And I did it and loved it. So at a certain point you need to go talk to other people at the same seniority level and learn what they are doing. You need to understand more about the industry. You need to become a subject expert on X, Y, and Z, and it seems like, "oh, you really like technology. How can we utilize that love?"
And finally, if I'm to the point where the company can't give me more around where I wanna go and how I wanna develop, is it time for me to say goodbye.
And that’s not in a negative way, but goodbye in a way that, I'm gonna move to another space and learn more over there, but I'm never gonna forget you, and maybe I'll boomerang back at a later date. And I'm still gonna recommend others to join the company, even though I've left.
So, making sure that off-boarding process is really positive for somebody especially if they are voluntarily leaving because you may get a boomerang in a couple of years and they're gonna bring even more things back to the company that would be a higher business impact, but also they're gonna recommend people and start them back on that cycle again.
Off-boarding is not the end
[William] The last part is the one that really touches me. That's just as much a part of your employer brand as the part on the front side, and all too often we think about employer brand and that candidate experience and we focus a lot of our energy, a lot of what's written, a lot of what's talked about at conferences is really focused on the front end.
Of course, it’s getting better. There are more discussions now than there ever has been about the employee experience, and so all those moments that you listed through the employee experience, those are getting talked about more.
But your last piece is a very, very important piece as it relates to employer brand – boomerangs. Even if you don't hire them, even if it isn't someone that you will work with again, there's still a grace, there's still a sense of, "Hey, we worked together, we loved you, you loved us, you're going on to your next best adventure, whether or not it was our choice or your choice, you're going on to your next best adventure, we wanna keep in touch with you, and we wanna stay in your lives as best we can."
That's just grace. It's corporate grace, but it's grace, right?
[Elizabeth] But also, I still mentor three people from former companies. I'm still involved with them. I'm still super passionate about mentoring those three people because I've seen them grow exponentially and I'm so excited to continue mentoring them, and it just fills my heart, and I'm just super happy to do it, but also, it does help their brand, too, I guess. But I didn't even think about it that way.
It's really being hyper aware that what you are doing isn’t something that puts somebody in jeopardy, or worse, start disengaging them.
Traditions, ceremonies, and being inclusive
[William] So, you've said celebrations. But I wanna talk about traditions and ceremonies, which are kind of cultural anthropological terms.
Traditions in the sense of when someone has a birthday, this is what we do. Or maybe there’s a ceremony, when someone gets promoted, we ring a bell, we do this bit.
I'll tell you a funny story. I was visiting a company in Austin who's in the space, and on the first day of work, it's an open environment, probably 80 employees, the new employee has to stand up in front of everybody, introduce themselves, and tell the company something that they've never told anybody about them.
So, they have to tell a secret to the entire company, and that's a tradition. Everyone from CEO, from board, everyone has had to do the same thing
So, I'm thinking all my secrets, oh, good God. But what do you think about it?
[Elizabeth] I think you need to be careful with them. I think you need to consider diversity, inclusion and belonging and stuff like that. So, I just cringed when you were saying that because what if you have a super introverted engineer who started and they're just like, "that's not in my comfort zone?"
[Elizabeth] That's hard for them. What if you decide to celebrate birthdays and you bring in a cake for the December birthdays, and everyone's expecting to eat a piece of cake, but yet, someone might be like, "Yeah, well, I'm diabetic and I really can't eat that cake," but they're ashamed of not eating a piece of cake.
So, it's really being hyper aware that what you are doing isn’t something that puts somebody in jeopardy, or worse, start disengaging them. So are there things you can do that could actually help them or be celebratory but not damaging?
For example, at Eventbrite, like most Valley folks in fact, people have stickers on their laptops – to the horror of almost every IT person. But they give you a sticker, you walk in the door, welcome to Eventbrite. Here's a backpack. Here's some swag. Here's a sticker for your laptop. Put it where you want to. And that’s awesome.
And now we’re starting to roll out Brite-versary stickers. There’s a sticker for number one. Or if we are celebrating Pride Week, there’s a sticker too.
So, we're doing things, like putting up a sticker is not damaging – even though it annoys the IT people. But it’s celebrating – like "Yeah, I've hit my fifth one. I've got five stickers rolling across my laptop. I'm super excited."
During All Hands, we also celebrate every Brite-versary for that particular month. So, everyone who's had one anniversary, we throw up all of their pictures together in a group. So, we don't single any person out, which is great, but you're still celebrating it.
And then people are like, "oh, my gosh, happy anniversary. I had no idea that you just hit your second. Congratulations." So, celebrations can happen in a way that's not terrifying for someone who might be, “I'm very personal, this is where I wanna stay," to then also still celebrating and achieving the engagement that you want.
[William] I think that you've brought up some wonderful points – it's gotta make sense for everybody. It can't just make sense for one group of people within the company. This is 2019, and we should be thinking about this as a whole company. What we do impacts everybody, so let's make sure that our values and our mission vision and the way that we interact with everyone, it doesn't exclude.
I think one of the best parts was your example of an engineer and he or she gets in front of the audience and they shut down because that's just not their sweet spot. That's not their bit. Well, we shouldn't put anybody in that position. That doesn't help anybody. It doesn't increase engagement, and it's embarrassing. Thankfully, we're all starting to think a little bit bigger and wider about how it might impact, whatever decisions that we make might impact all of the people in our organization.
I do have a question that came in around “stay interviews”. So, the concept of exit interviews, okay, in the end, we're parting ways, whether it was our choice or your choice, and we're gonna get some really brutal feedback on why and what didn't work, and see what we can do to fix that, all that stuff.
Some companies do stay interviews, and the way it's explained to me on text is essentially what they do is, once a quarter, they ask, "Hey, what are we doing to keep you? What are we doing?" It's kinda similar to engagement, but it's a stay interview, and a concept, it's been around for a while. It's not a new concept, but so many HR people are accustomed to the exit interview being part of the exit checklist. We gotta get your key, gotta get your credit card, you gotta turn in your laptop, and there's this checklist of things to do, and then we interview people on their way out and they told us things like, “I don't like Sally, Tim's a serial philanderer.”
They told us things that we might or might not need to know and might or might not be true. Stay interviews are the opposite. They're still working for you and you're asking them, "why do you stay?" Conceptually, what do you think about stay interviews?
[Elizabeth] I think that's pretty good. So, the interview part is what I'm interested in because you've got engagement surveys, which will tell you, "I see myself working at Eventbrite in two years time," or whatever. If you nail those questions and they give you yes or no.
The stay interview would be super interesting, just because, number one, you're able to see, you're able to actively listen to them in terms of body language and you're maybe able to ask more if there are any questions, et cetera, which I think is actually pretty brilliant. I think at Eventbrite we would get good information out of that, which would be awesome.
I was amazed when I experienced the engagement survey for the first time at Eventbrite. My team handles that and we were supposed to look at all the comments and read through all the comments so we got the right consensus of the feelings of the questions, and I've never seen so many comments. So, people at Eventbrite are very vocal about what they think and how they feel, which I think is phenomenal.
I've done other engagement surveys where there may be like 10 comments for a company of 1000 and I'm like, "why is that happening?"
So, I think the interview thing is really fascinating, instead of just sending a survey, actually saying, "Hey, this pocket of 10 people across these particular departments," we'd pull them in and say, "let's talk about why you stay." You don't have to do it one on one, but I think maybe you could do a focus group around why you stay. That would be super interesting. Yeah.
Knowing when you’ve gotten the experience right
[William] 60 minutes have flown by. The last thing I gotta ask you is a question from one of our audience members. How do you know when you've gotten it right? We all know the law of diminished return and with everything, there's this moment in which it's not effective, or it diminishes.
So for you, and the experiences that you're thinking about creating and that you create, how do you know when you get it right? Is there a sense? Is there a feeling? Is there something that you just know and it clicks? Do people tell you?
[Elizabeth] There are a couple of different ways of looking at it. So, the engagement survey will tell you when you get certain things right. People will say, "I'm engaged, I'm excited."
The other way is by doing AB testing. If you are doing a particular type of training that’s live, and you’re not getting many people participating, but the same training online gets a lot of people, then you’ll know to do that training online rather than face to face.
So, you’ll see results like attendance dropping off, people not signing up for things – or you’ll get direct feedback via surveys.
You can also test to see if you got the effect you were looking for. So what’s the goal? Is it to have a certain business impact for a particular training or session? Did we get the impact we needed? Once we are able to measure that, we can say "This works, this didn't work, this is what we're gonna do differently going forward."
There's always a learning curve, but hopefully, you vetted out what you're trying to achieve prior to actually releasing it or doing it.
[William] I could talk to you all day long. I really could. You are amazing and thank you. I know you're busy, crazy busy, but thanks for carving out time for us and the audience, and raising our intellect and getting us to think about new things.
[Ashley] I have not had the heart to butt in. This has been a brilliant conversation, and I'm so glad I was muted because I've been laughing through half of it. It's just great.
Thank you so much. We really appreciate this, Elizabeth.
[William] Thank you, Elizabeth.
[Elizabeth] Thank you.