I recently read an article by Aaron Skonnard, CEO of Pluralsight, wrote about R&D for our staff. It had some great thoughts I wanted share here. This is, after all, a blog about culture and how to create a better workplace, right?
Before I gush about this article I have to say that I have a working relationship with Pluralsight, and have broken bread with Aaron. I have seen him speak onstage and have been inspired by his leadership, vision, and giving heart. I have over 30 soft skill and professional development courses in the Pluralsight library. Having said all that, they don’t know I’m writing this post. But I wanted to share it with you because it’s a great, and profound, thought.
The article is titled “You’ve Heard of R&D For Product. But What About For People?”
This article was posted July 30, 2020, right in the middle of the COVID-19 debacle. The subtitle is “why now is the time to invest in your staff and the technology that helps them unlock their best work.”
Sounds like something we’ve been saying at Snowfly, right?
Aaron talks about how challenging these times are. He talks about the painful lessons of the last few months, and how we can “do business by investing in people and technology for the innovation to come.”
I don’t think there are many business leaders out there who aren’t asking what the new normal will be. Will it be mostly remote? Will purchasing habits change? What will be the biggest threats we need to worry about, and what opportunities might we take advantage of to either stay alive or have healthy growth?
Aaron says “I’ve led Pluralsight during unforeseen events before, and we’ve come out the other side stronger and better.” Look folks, this is not the first crisis for many of us. There have been others before, and we somehow made it through. There will be others after COVID goes away.
Some of our competitors might go away. Industries will change. Some will be weakened (the cruise ship industry??) while others will be strengthened (pharma, if they can navigate a potential PR mess, and any company that can make face masks or face shields). Politicians will be emboldened or fired at the next election because of how they handle this.
At the very root of rawness, we have individuals who have lost everything, from jobs and income to a sense of stability and normalcy, to even lives and loved ones. If you or those you know have lost someone, it’s unfathomable to listen to all of the yelling and fighting about anything, as you try to mourn a loss without even being able to do something as simple as go to a funeral.
For some, it’s a really bizarre time. For others it’s an impossible time. For many, it’s a time filled with lots of questions and no real answers. For those who are in pain, and feel lost, I feel for you. I mourn the “olden days” with you. This is tremendously hard.
In the darkness and unknown, there are many silver linings. Growth and progress, even happiness, can come from turmoil. My life changed in 2006 when my world fell apart. I didn’t lose my wife and kids, but I lost almost everything else. I lost my purpose, my identity. In a prolonged period of job loss I didn’t know why or where I fit into this world. But with time, and creativity, and a lot of paradigm shifting, better things have come. I know that can be true, for you, too.
If you are a company owner or leader, I need you to read Aaron’s post. Aaron talks about investing in your technology and your people, even in times like this. The companies that make those investments, he argues, not only survive, but thrive. When you are in a position to slow down and invest in the most important competitive advantages you can, the things you have a bit more control over, then you win. You win by keeping your business alive and you win by coming out as a leader in the industry.
Pluralsight provides online, on-demand training for technologists. They keep the world’s tech experts and practitioners up to speed with new languages, new methods, new ideologies. They teach best practices to some of the largest tech companies and departments around the world, while providing a solid continuing education plan for small companies. They are the future of tech education.
The secret, though, is that technology is not the key. If it were, Pluralsight would build technology. Instead, they focus on building people. They focus on the skills that individuals need to thrive. When individuals thrive, projects and products thrive. When projects and products thrive, companies thrive.
Pluralsight is all about people. Skilling up, learning more, staying current, understanding the why and how to do jobs. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more important set of hard skill courses. There are also soft skill courses (my specialty). How can these skilled workers improve their communication? How can they think critically, and learn how to express themselves in different settings? How can they be more effective on teams, or in leadership roles? How can they manage projects better, or create better products?
Aaron is arguing that we need to invest in our people.
At Snowfly we have the same message. We want you to invest in your people. We agree 100% with the education and skilling up that Aaron is talking about. We also want you to strategically invest in your culture. We want you to create an amazing work environment, whether that means cubicles and kitchens or a work environment that spans kitchen tables and couches around the world. We want your employees to feel they are appreciated and valued, and that their contributions are part of some big success or movement. We all want that, don’t we?
We also want you to invest in technology that creates that culture and workplace. Snowfly Incentives is a program that helps you give intrinsic and extrinsic rewards to your team members. Snowfly Incentives helps ensure they feel appreciated and valued. If it is an extrinsic rewards you are “putting your money where your mouth is,” and sharing the financial benefits they bring to the organization. If it is an intrinsic reward they might feel like they are a bigger part of the team and vision. Surprisingly, studies show that intrinsic rewards are more meaningful than extrinsic rewards.
The Snowfly peer and manager recognition systems allow you to surface the wins, big and small, your team has. Whether that is landing a new client or handling a difficult customer support call, giving and getting recognition can be one of the most rewarding parts of a job. Have you ever done something awesome at work and not gotten even a “thank you!” or “good job!!”? It can be disheartening. On the other hand, if you get recognition, from bosses or people you work with, it can make your whole day.
Snowfly Speech Analytics is a product that helps create a better work environment by providing intelligence about conversations that happen on the phone or through chat systems. They give leaders insight into training opportunities to have more effective conversations, whether that is in sales or support or onboarding or whatever. Insight provides data from which you can make better decisions and help your team handle hard situations better. Helping your sales team, for example, close more deals, creates a much better work environment and can help provide a level of job satisfaction that keeps your best performers around.
The investment Aaron is talking about is the same we are talking about. Create better people. Give them fulfillment. Give them much more than a paycheck. Give them an exciting opportunity to contribute, and let them know their value. This is exactly what we specialize in at Snowfly. We want to help you create this culture.
Want to learn more? Give us a call. We’d love to brag about our products and show you how other companies are creating cultures that survive and thrive.