Last week, Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, stopped by Scoop HQ to share insights on everything from successfully scaling a company, investing in and maintaining a positive culture through hyper-growth, and how to best find a mentor in the workplace.
In the year and a half since Jeff last visited our office, our employee count has tripled, and we continue to see rapid expansion across our organization. Needless to say, we’re at a critical point in our growth. As companies enter 2019 with ambitious goals, many of them are asking the same questions we are: how can they continue to scale, recruit and retain competitive talent, and build a culture of diversity and inclusion?
A big ask, but an important one.
Jeff has spent over 10 years of his career growing LinkedIn into a multi-billion dollar company. Along the way, he helped create a truly remarkable company culture for his 13,000+ employees. We couldn’t think of a better person to take the stage.
Below, you’ll find the four most impactful takeaways for growing any business.
If you don’t create a codified set of values, others will
Employees will fill the empty vacuum with their own.
LinkedIn’s culture and values are among their most notable competitive advantages. They resonate with candidates and produce an environment that prioritizes personal development and enrichment.
But that wasn’t always the case. It took dedicated effort and investment from executives and the company as a whole to bring those values to life internally. Jeff recommends defining your vision, mission, culture and values to establish a company identity that can allow you to attract and retain talent. You can learn more about LinkedIn’s Vision to Values approach here.
At Scoop, we embody our mission and values every day. They drive the organization and foster a sense of community within the company.
You only go as far as your talent
Talent is the #1 operating priority at LinkedIn.
According to Jeff, maintaining a high bar has been instrumental to LinkedIn’s success. As an organization grows — whether you’re a hyper-growth startup or an established company with hundreds of employees — it’s important to invest in efficient recruiting processes that cultivate a strong talent lever. It’s also important to invest in onboarding, learning and development, and performance evaluation for existing talent as well.
By refusing to compromise on these foundational initiatives, a company can grow at a steady pace and hire candidates who will help propel the business to new heights.
D&I is nothing without belonging
Without inclusion and belonging, employees can’t reach their full potential.
Organizations can hire as many employees as they want to achieve diversity goals, but they won’t retain them without inclusion and belonging. Without it, employees are more likely to feel alienated and disengaged.
LinkedIn prioritizes diversity, inclusion, and belonging in both their hiring process and company culture, with the ultimate goal of helping everyone at the company thrive. Using the meeting as a metaphor, he described diversity as the act of ensuring your team’s composition reflects the customers you are serving, inclusion is inviting those employees to a meeting, and belonging is ensuring that once they have a seat at the table, they feel comfortable enough to contribute.
Employees should also learn about their unconscious biases, which often come up during the hiring process. Through compassion and empathy training, people can not only recognize their behavior but also make efforts to change and improve it. Companies and individuals often strive for empathy, but that only means they can recognize and understand another’s feelings. Compassion, in Jeff’s opinion, was the next step of not just understanding, but also taking action.
At the end of the day, every employee wants a voice. They want to be heard and feel valued. Building an environment that supports them can become one of your biggest competitive advantages as an organization. When you have more voices at the table, you’re exposed to new, unique insights that you otherwise might not find.
Even the smallest things matter
The smallest things can send the wrong signals.
The smallest details can make a big impact on the way companies create and maintain an inclusive environment for employees. Jeff gave one example from LinkedIn of an unintentional misstep: after a major milestone, the team organized a celebration at their headquarters. However, LinkedIn has offices in more than 30 cities around the world — quickly, the organization realized it was a missed opportunity to bring the celebration to LinkedIn employees worldwide.
Jeff and his team set out to scale a culture that connects each office together, no matter where they are across the world, while still celebrating each office’s unique, local culture. He also pushed for everyone — including himself — to remove terms like “remote office” from the company lexicon as to not alienate employees.
At first, these small details might feel a bit innocuous. Over time, though, they can compound and leave an unfavorable impression on your workforce.
Jeff’s advice is to pay more attention to the small things. Address any issues as they come, and work swiftly toward a solution. This type of proactive leadership will help shape company culture for the better, in 2019 and beyond.
At Scoop, we advocate for our employees by fostering open, honest, and constructive communication. By encouraging everyone to share their perspective, we’ve developed a work environment that uplifts every member of our team. We recently sat down with Haley Hinze, one of our Software Engineers, who said that Scoop allowed her to take initiative and reach her full potential: