Culture First

Crafted by Culture Amp

 Part 3

Is anything certain?

Fig 1. Planning for adversity

Reckoning with tension by deconstructing uncertainty.

Society at large is in a state of justifiable unrest, and issues that impact our work – like sudden cashflow problems, broken lines of communication, layoffs, or even market collapse – can further heighten the deep sense of frustration many are experiencing right now. Now more than ever we need our leaders at work to bring us together with empathy, to lessen this tension and frustration. In this stage, we’ll look at how we can start to do this – by deconstructing problems and demystifying extraordinary adversity.

Podcast

Create space for honest conversations

Culture First podcast by Culture Amp

  • 01

    Episode 5: Michelle Kim

    How to talk about politics and race in the workplace

    In this episode, Damon Klotz speaks with Michelle Kim, Co-Founder and CEO of Awaken. Michelle and Damon talk about how to manage a team in times of political trauma, create space for uncomfortable conversations at work, and minimize the impact of uncertainty for your employees.

  • 02

    Episode 6: Tariq Meyers

    Why Coinbase turned to open-sourcing to reduce uncertainty for their employees

    In this episode, Damon Klotz speaks with Tariq Meyers, Global Head of Belonging, Inclusion, and Diversity at Coinbase. Damon and Tariq discuss why Coinbase open sourced their response to COVID-19 and how it helped reduce uncertainty for employees.

Culture First podcast by Culture Amp

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The long reads

Original content

01

Culture amp | 6 min read

Emily’s story: humans helping humans through crisis

Emily Kramer portrait

In the midst of a pandemic, it seems like all we’re hearing is bad news. But during times of widespread uncertainty, there are many individuals and organizations making an effort to amplify those around them who are struggling.

We spoke with Emily Kramer, former VP of Marketing at high-growth startups Carta and Asana, about how she has shifted her focus to help industry peers navigate employment uncertainty.

 

“People are rallying together to try to figure out how they can help. The process of finding roles is hard to navigate, and now that the market has changed, it’s even harder. But companies are still hiring, and there's so much great talent out there.”

Emily recognized the power of humans helping humans through uncertainty. During periods of crisis, it’s tempting to fall into an “everyone for themselves” mentality, but there is power in working together. The only way forward is through, and the only way through is together.

“A lot of the bad news that you’re getting all the time feels a little better when you just help someone.”

EMILY KRAMER

Co-Founder of Help Wanted

“This is an undeniably challenging time, but supporting other people is really helping me through. When someone that I helped gets a job, it feels awesome. A lot of the bad news that you’re getting all the time feels a little better when you just help someone.”

Help wanted in action

Emily spent the past several years leading and scaling marketing teams. In November of 2019, she left her role to explore other projects, but when COVID-19 hit, she decided to dedicate her time and expertise to those affected by layoffs. With the help of her business partner, Deva Hazarika‍, they launched Help Wanted, a free hands-on program designed to help startup employees find jobs during the crisis.

Emily recognized that many people looking for jobs right now never had to do a job search in a down market. Young professionals with less than 10 years of experience weren't looking for jobs in 2008 when the market crashed. They're used to an environment where companies and recruiters were vying to get candidates in the door. Now, that has completely changed.

“There’s always a stigma around getting laid off. Our group is focused on rebuilding that confidence and reminding our candidates that they were not laid off because of performance, but because of these macro conditions out of their control.”

Emily and Deva looked at what organizations were already out there. A number of projects have popped up in this area – some before COVID-19 and some after. They came across companies populating layoff lists and a number of organizations in the talent space that pivoted to serve people who have been laid off.

“There are so many different lists, but navigating these lists can be really overwhelming. A lot of these organizations are doing things at scale, but we wanted to do something that’s not at scale and start helping people find roles.”

They quickly put together a website and application and shared it out with their networks. In five days, they received 200 applications.

“We reviewed every one of them and selected a group of 15 people across a variety of functions with little overlap on what they were looking for. We wanted it to be collaborative, not competitive. We wanted people that we thought we could help. We’re now working with our second group”

Rethinking networking in times of crisis

With the sudden shift in the economy, professional networking has become the best way to get in front of the right person. Organizations are overloaded with applications, so it’s critical to find creative ways of connecting with individuals at a company.

“Thinking creatively about your connections can give you a leg up. Don't just look to your past teammates or friends, think about vendors you’ve worked with, people from the same volunteer organization, etc. and just ask – ‘Do you think I'm a fit for this role at your company?’ This a much lighter weight ask than a referral, but might lead to the same outcome.”

While you may not always be able to help someone find a job directly, networking can be as simple as sharing relevant resources with peers. For example, many organizations are pivoting to provide free resources to people impacted by layoffs.

“It’s heartwarming to see so many companies offering free services to people impacted by the crisis. Code Academy is providing free classes, Headspace is offering free meditations, and there are many other services available to people affected by layoffs. Granted, the motives may not be entirely altruistic, but who cares? Utilize all the forms of help that are available.”

Especially right now, people are willing to ask for help and willing to offer help.

Especially right now, people are willing to ask for help and willing to offer help. Whether or not you’re in a formal program, Emily suggests building a core group of peers to serve as a support system and hold each other accountable.

“Without the break up of a commute to get in and out of work mode, I needed to create more of a schedule. I check in with her business partner every morning just to make sure we both get up and running.”

This discipline is encouraged within the Help Wanted program and beyond. Having a schedule is something that everyone is struggling with now, so Emily encourages job seekers to find peers in similar situations and establish regular check-ins.

We’re in this together

As a result of the program, eight out of the initial 15 participants have gotten jobs. Many shared that the greatest impact stemmed from being able to clearly state their story and achievements. While many of us don’t have the resources to launch a full-on help program, Emily assures that there are many ways to make an impact during this time.

“You don’t have to do something at scale and help hundreds of people, just helping one other person can be beneficial..”

EMILY KRAMER

Co-Founder of Help Wanted

“If you work somewhere that is hiring, make an intro. Be open to conversations with individuals in your extended network. Maybe they're not the right fit for your company, but you might be able to make a suggestion. Offer to review someone’s LinkedIn profile and give feedback. Volunteer to do a mock interview or review a presentation. That's something everyone can do.”

There are so many resources and lists and that can be overwhelming to people who are in an already overwhelming situation. Everyone's temptation is to do something at scale, to solve the bigger programs, but sometimes it’s more meaningful to help a few people in a really personal way.

“You don’t have to do something at scale and help hundreds of people, just helping one other person can be beneficial. Don't beat yourself up if you’re not spending that much time doing it, just know that a little action can go a long way.”

Read less

02

Culture Amp | 4 min read

Focusing on what you can control during periods of uncertainty

We find ourselves facing challenge after challenge as we move through this crisis – and each successive challenge threatens to add to the compounding anxiety and worry many of us are feeling. How will I balance work and childcare if schools remain closed when I go back to work? How will we afford our payments if I am laid off? How will I find a new job in a down economy? Will things ever go back to “normal?”

While we don’t have all of the answers right now, we can take comfort in the fact that we’re all trying to figure out how to move forward and what to do. There is no textbook for navigating change, but fortunately, there are a variety of resources available to help us keep anxiety at bay and continue moving forward.

In this article, we’ll share different resources to help you identify what you have control over and keep moving forward.

 

Quieting the fear

We all adapt to crisis in our own way, at our own speed. The origin of the word crisis means “to sift,” which reminds us that we’re in the midst of change, waiting for all of the excesses to fall away so we can begin anew. As we begin to discuss a “return to normal,” it’s becoming clear that things are going to be different. Similar to any major life event, things don’t simply go back to the way it was, rather, something new emerges.

The exact future is uncertain, but we can use what we know and the skills we’ve developed already to take the power back into our hands and help shape the future. Now that the initial period of shock has washed over us and we’re looking toward that new future, it can feel overwhelming. In these moments, it’s time to take stock of what you have control over and leave the unknowns to naturally sift until the next steps become clearer.

In these moments, it’s time to take stock of what you have control over and leave the unknowns to naturally sift until the next steps become clearer.

Take time to identify the things you can change and the things that are out of your control. Recognize the irrational fears and what-ifs, and consciously set them aside as best you can. Then you can focus your attention on what you can control, and start moving in that direction.

Moving forward through uncertainty

Once you identify what you can and can’t control, you can leverage the resources available to tackle the things you can. The good news is that you don’t have to go it alone. You’re in good company, as everyone around the globe is navigating a similar sense of uncertainty.

Consider the following approaches to help you keep moving forward through uncertainty:

  1. Communicate with your team

    As the world shifts, new challenges naturally arise. Maybe workplaces reopen but childcare does not. Perhaps public spaces reopen, but you’re afraid to risk exposure. Don’t wait to raise these issues with your team. Maintain open lines of communication as the situation evolves. Many leaders are listening and looking for new ideas, so don’t be afraid to propose solutions and be an active participant in shaping the future of your workplace. If you’re not sure how to adapt to the needs of different individuals, seek out organizations designed to help.

    For example, organizations like Circle In and Kunik provide resources to support working parents during this time. According to Circle In, “creating a community for parents within the organization is a powerful initiative. In times like these, they need it more than ever because we’re all figuring out how best to proceed and sometimes the best answers come from within. This doesn't have to be a massive undertaking, simply creating a channel for working parents can offer an internal support group.”

  2. Strengthen your relationships

    Now is the time to strengthen your relationships and bolster your sense of community. Networking isn’t just exchanging business cards, it’s about making meaningful connections with the people around you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your extended network via LinkedIn or Slack channels and connect with others experiencing similar challenges. It could be as simple as checking in and acknowledging their struggle, but it might also blossom into a meaningful partnership that shapes your future.

    These relationships also provide an opportunity to give back to those in your community. According to SEEK, “while it can be hard in times of uncertainty, giving yourself back some purpose in your life through community engagement can be very rewarding and meaningful.”

  3. Adjust your goals

    The crisis likely puts your long-term goals on hold. Consider how your original goals can be adapted to the short-term. Focus on skills and step-by-step goals – this could be as simple as getting through the day, or as aggressive as learning a new language. Set goals that help you regain a sense of control. It doesn’t have to be career-oriented, personal goals can help make each day feel like you’re progressing toward something larger.

    According to Employment Hero, “setting goals to work towards creates a sense of direction and groundedness. Don’t be afraid to reevaluate your goals regularly; many of the goals you had at the beginning of the year may no longer be applicable. Though this can be disappointing, it’s important to be honest with yourself so you can adjust them and keep moving forward.”

  4. Think outside the box

    While we all face unique challenges, there is an opportunity to share solutions and ideas with peers and leaders. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but engage with others experiencing similar challenges and build on each other’s approaches. It may take you slightly outside of your comfort zone, but it could be the key to helping you overcome a seemingly insurmountable hurdle.

    “As a leader, now is the time to look around your organization for the people you don’t normally call on.”

    Cameron Welter

    Principal at Kotter

    You don’t have to have 20 years of work experience to come up with creative, new ideas. Everybody is starting from the same position as we adapt to this changing world, so experience is less important than insight and ability. Speak up and get involved in planning for the future. “As a leader, now is the time to look around your organization for the people you don’t normally call on,” says Cameron Welter, Principal at Kotter. “You’ll be amazed by all the hidden talent and ideas within your organization – and what they can do when given permission to try.”

  5. Invest in self-learning and development

    What careers will be important in this new world? Use this time to skill yourself up for the next wave. If you have the capacity, take time to invest in your own development. Always wanted to learn a language? In this increasingly globalized world, now is a perfect time. Interested in coding? As we become more reliant on technology, this will continue to be extremely valuable. This will help you stay oriented to the things you can control and also give you a leg up as the world continues to evolve.

Whatever you do, give yourself credit, patience, and understanding as you continue moving forward at your own pace.

It’s hard enough right now to simply get through each day, but you play a valuable role in shaping the future. It can be as simple as discussing your challenges with your manager or as proactive as upskilling yourself for the future. Whatever you do, give yourself credit, patience, and understanding as you continue moving forward at your own pace.

It’s never easy to silence the fears and stressors that seem all-present during these times, but taking the reins back one step at a time will help you quiet fear and shape a new world.

Read less

From The Heart of the C-Suite

An intimate conversation on how C-level executives are #WorkingThroughIt

In this episode, we unravel a conversation about systemic racial inequality in the workplace. The episode features Alicia Jessip, Inclusion and Diversity Manager at TEKsystems, and Culture Amp Founder and CEO, Didier Elzinga, in a conversation moderated by Alica Forneret, a writer at Culture Amp. Alicia is the author of “Your Silence is Betrayal” an open letter to white, male CEO’s in the technology industry, published four days after the murder of George Floyd. Watch the episode for a raw and honest conversation between Alicia and her intended audience.

Resources

We’re all in this together – resources from our friends and partners

This is an unprecedented time. There are no business strategies or ‘hot tips for working from home’ that can change the fact that many of us are feeling anxious and overwhelmed. But we can – and have to – work through it together. These resources from our partners and friends will help us do just that.

7 keys to becoming a resilient leader

Torch

While resilient leaders are often championing change, they must also be able to make the decisions required to enact that change. Learn 7 ways you can start taking steps in the right direction.

“In order to really make change, a leader needs to have others moving in the same direction they are headed.”

Read the article →

An open letter to those working in the HR space right now

Claire Seeber

There’s a reason this article went viral amongst HR business leaders. It talks about the unique position HR finds themselves in when a crisis hits and why it’s so important to not be hard on yourself.

“You are in a unique position to influence and change the course of the future of work for your organization.”

Read the letter →

How to manage your team in times of political trauma

Michelle Kim

As a leader, you have an opportunity to allow for some breathing room. Here’s what to do and say to boost psychological safety with your team.

“When we encourage our teams to ‘bring their whole selves to work’ – remember that this includes acknowledging how their lives are impacted by forces outside the office.”

Read the article →

Navigating uncertainty: Resources to prepare for change

Kotter

Dr. Kotter’s research explores a two-channel system called survive and thrive. Learn how you can use this system to prepare for inevitable and unpredictable change.

“First, leaders must do exactly that–respond. Acknowledge what has transpired and what it means for the business.”

Read the article →

Don’t be an ally, be an accomplice

Willie Jackson

Real advocacy and comfort rarely go hand in hand. It’s great that you see yourself as an ally, but what does putting that into action look like?

“We all contain multitudes, and the space to bear witness to someone else’s story can be sacred and affirming.”

Learn more →
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Toolkit

Working through crisis

There’s no playbook for periods of uncertainty – but we created this toolkit to help you work through it.

Insight

How Tenesha, an employee at Culture Amp is #WorkingThroughIt

Photo of Tenesha Craig

Tenesha Craig

Recruiter at Culture Amp

Rather than focus on what I couldn’t control, I channeled my nervous energy towards the root of what, I believe, talent acquisition is: Connecting with people. Without any agenda, I had a chance to really listen to those that had been impacted by COVID. I was also able to tell the story of how Culture Amp was showing up (which is a story I’m very proud to tell) which led to more genuine and honest conversations and growth of our community.”

How we work

Reckoning with career uncertainty in unpredictable times

In episode three of HOW WE WORK, we discussed role and career uncertainty. Does job security still exist? How do you transition into a new role? What does the new world of learning and development look like? Tune in for tips and tricks that come in handy when searching for a new job.

Emilie Aries

Speaker, Author and CEO / Founder of Bossed Up

Kyle Elliott

Noted career coach, resume writer and LinkedIn strategist

Ginny Clarke

Director, Leadership Staffing at Google

A conversation series hosted by Culture Amp

In the next How We Work conversation, we will be discussing leading with EQ.

Inside Culture Amp

To the Black community: we’re with you

Black people matter. Black people’s rights matter. Black lives matter.

Black lives matter

George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbrey, and Breonna Taylor matter. And so do the hundreds of people–disproportionately Black–killed by police in America every year.

It feels almost unbelievable that our world, our institutions, and our communities today do not recognize these fundamental truths. After witnessing the murder of yet another of our Black fellow humans by someone meant to protect him, we can no longer be silent. Our collective failure to see, speak, and act as we should in the face of pervasive structural racism across a shamefully long history is all of our responsibility to fix.

Culture Amp is committed to building a world of work where everyone can thrive, which is impossible without organizational justice. We’re committed to designing our organization for equity and fairness. We know that while we’ve put a lot of work in to make Culture Amp a place where everyone is treated equitably, we haven’t always gotten that right. Failing, getting feedback, and learning to do better next time is the process. But acting is the most important part. That action will require us to identify and root out racism in our selves, our operations, our culture, and our world.

Here are some of the first steps we’re taking:

Supporting Black employees

We recognize that speaking out is an important part of this process, but that words without action only perform solidarity.

In the near term, we’re supporting our Black employees by:

  • Acknowledging the events: Senior leaders are actively and publicly acknowledging events, their impact on the Black community, and offering what personal support they’re able to give.

  • Sharing educational resources: We’re sharing resources on anti-Blackness, White fragility, and anti-racism with our global team and providing guidance to managers of Black employees on how to support them.

  • Giving permission to call in Black: We’re giving our Black employees (and others who feel impacted) an extra day off this week, without a requirement to log vacation time.

  • Holding processing sessions: We’re working with Camp Color (our ERG for people of color) to hold sessions to connect and process, centering on our Black teammates’ experiences. Our global presence gives us the opportunity to add international context to the discussion with team members in Australia and Europe.

  • Supporting our Camp Color activists: Non-Black Campers are organizing in their dedicated spaces to educate each other and take direct action.

In the coming days, weeks, and months, we will also:

  • Develop and launch a program to support Black employees in collaboration with Black mental health specialists

  • Launch a White Allies Educational Initiative for employees who want to grow in their commitment to practice anti-racism

  • Pilot a Managing Across Racial Dynamics course for managers of Black employees

Supporting our community

We know that a core part of the work of eradicating racism is using the privilege we have to advocate for change. One of our greatest privileges is having the opportunity to support each of our customers on their journey to building just, engaged, high-performing workplaces.

We know that you may also be looking to us to understand how you can support Black people on your team and in your community. In the coming days, we’ll be sharing guidance on the actions you can take to support the Black community and Black people on your team.

Our mission is to create a better world of work. What we need now is a better world.

In solidarity,

Didier ElzingaFounder & Chief Executive Officer, Culture Amp

Doug EnglishFounder & Chief Technology Officer, Culture Amp

Rod HamiltonFounder & Chief Product Officer, Culture Amp

Take control of uncertainty

Community

Find strength in the Culture First community through building new relationships

Check in to find out how other, like-minded people are taking a Culture First approach to working through it.

Find your people →

Working through crisis toolkit

A Culture Amp toolkit for more humanity at workThere’s no playbook for periods of uncertainty – but we created this toolkit to help you work through it.

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Previous: Part 2

The only way forward is through

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Next up: Part 4

How long will this feeling last?

Go to Part 4 →