Our company is changing the world, all while growing at hyper speed. In order for us to stay ahead, both our people and the company must develop faster than the world changes. This puts very special demands on us, the HR department, to create that environment where a diverse crowd of innovative and passionate people can work together and be their very best.
Every year LinkedIn hosts Talent Connect conference – an event that aims to bring HR-professionals from across the globe together for a couple of days to be inspired, network and discuss what the future of work will look like.
This year, a couple of us from the Spotify HR team headed to Anaheim, CA, to attend the 3 day conference along with 4000+ attendees from all over the globe. The theme for this year’s event was ‘From Insights to Impact’ which was evident across all keynote speeches and breakout sessions.
And now, it would be easy to go into “here’s all the speakers”-mode and review the sessions we saw, but instead, we thought we’d give you a look at the main takeaways from the theme and what the common messages from the stages really was.
Big Theme #1: Becoming personal in the age of AI
We were inspired by Tim Leberecht’s talk on integrating more romanticism into the world of business. Now, this isn’t something you hear often but Tim provided a thought-provoking outlook on the future of work in the age of AI. In a pragmatic world where we are always connected, he explained that human beings are actually looking for more personal and shared experiences. And when we say we want more time, what we really want is more memories. This sentiment was also shared by psychotherapist Esther Perel in her talk on ‘Relational Intelligence’ where she claimed that quality of our work relationships is becoming a top determinant of business success. We also heard Dr. Rand Hindi speak about why human-like AI may never exist since machines lack emotional intelligence which comes from humans’ consciousness and senses. Now, when we hear talks on AI, it is often painted with a dystopian picture where humans won’t be necessary. But according to Dr. Hindi it would actually be a stress-free experience where employees are enjoying the work that they are doing because we will have delegated to machines the things we humans don’t want to do. When machines do machine work, and humans do human work, not only can we potentially work less but also feel happier. This is the real promise of AI in the future of work!
Big Theme #2: Being authentically YOU
On day 2 we heard from Carla Harris – an exceptional speaker who shared her pearls of wisdom with funny anecdotes and passionate stories on her path to success. Carla used her personal narrative to describe why bringing her authentic self to work allowed her to create a distinct competitive advantage in her career journey because being yourself when you show up allows you to build trust with those around you. Furthermore, to get the best out of your employees, organizations must be intentional around authenticity and building trust, soliciting many voices to build a culture of diversity, inclusion, and innovation and being clear on their values. At Spotify, we believe strongly in our values and this talk resonated deeply with us.
Big theme #3: The data hype
Many of the breakout sessions happened to be around data – but! It wasn’t the usual “HR needs to better understand and use data” conversation that has been happening over the last couple of years. Instead, we heard industry experts talk about challenges around data integrity and data exhaustion. There seems to be an awareness that while data is important, it doesn’t quite tell the entire story and you do need to add context and analysis to get the real value from it. It was quite refreshing to hear a new perspective emerging in the HR-data space!
All in all, we left the conference energized and excited about what’s new in the talent space, so here’s a Big thank you to LinkedIn for hosting a great conference!
Two weeks into my new role as Spotify’s APAC Head of HR, I was asked to present at the 2017 Sydney HR Innovation and Tech Fest conference, where HR leaders and innovators from a wide range of industries come together to share knowledge, experience and HR innovation. This event was a great opportunity to start building a strong peer network of HR leaders in the APAC market. We got to hear from HR leaders and innovators from companies like Amazon, Quantas, Workday, Oracle, Cathay Pacific to name a few! Also, it was a great platform to showcase Spotify’s people strategy and culture to the APAC region.
I presented our people strategy and discussed the impact it has had on our entire company. How it’s our philosophy to be data-informed rather than data-driven, and how this has been fundamental in the design of successful programs like our parental leave policy or the flexible public holidays. These programs are bespoke, made to fit us and our unique culture, as well as making a change in the world outside our walls. I talked about working in a hyper-growth environment, and how we as an HR team work to overcome those challenges, always adapting and looking for scalability. The point that inspired the most questions and discussion was my “call to action” about the need to constantly disrupt, experiment, and continue to innovate the landscape of the HR industry. The traditional “HR playbook” is quickly becoming outdated. If we want to stay ahead and foster an environment where innovative and passionate people can be their very best, we need to test the boundaries of the HR industry, and continue to innovate and adapt within HR just like we do in our business.
We are very pleased to tell the world that our Diversity Data Report is finally in a place where it makes sense for us to publish it. As Spotifiers, we are always striving for transparency and accountability, and we believe this is another step in that direction.
Like many other companies before us, this is not a ‘shout it from the rooftops’ event but rather a way for us to get real about our current status, what we’ve been working on to get there and where we’re headed with this data. Nonetheless we are proud of the strides we’ve made, and even more committed to changing the areas we need to do much better in.
This is how we are faring
All these figures are from our June 2018 Diversity Data Report.
Collecting the data
Being a Swedish born and globally raised young company, one of the challenges when it comes to collecting and sharing diversity data has been the differences in both regulations and context between all the different parts of the world where we operate. What makes sense to measure and report on in one part of the world may not make sense, feel honest, or even be legally possible in another.
We set out to collect this data in the most respectful way possible, through self-identification via our HR data tool, and anonymous self-identification via our annual Inclusion Survey. Both of these methods mean that we simply ask our employees very nicely to share this information. And we have had a great response by any comparison, but we still have 14 – 20% blank or missing data (depending on the demographic category). So improving the self-identification rates is one thing we will keep pushing for next year – we want all of our people to feel comfortable to share this information, as this data is vital input to all the diversity and inclusion work we do.
Digging into the results
It’s always a big day when you get your survey numbers back and this year we got a little bit of everything. Some results were expected for example our global representation of females (38.7%). Some are encouraging, for example increasing our US black employee representation by 3.6%. This is exactly why we need this data, to know where to direct our efforts!
“Our greatest asset is our people and we want to treat them all fairly”
Daniel Ek, CEO
But Diversity is still nothing without Inclusion
Diversity data aside, over the past two years since this collection began we knew the work is so much more than just the numbers for us. We want deep meaningful change and inclusion activities that seed both diversity and inclusion ubiquitously into everything we do as a company. Having the most diverse and included workforce is vital to our innovation, success and for having a lasting impact on the world. With that in mind, we have launched and run over 100 Respectful workplace and Unconscious Bias workshops in offices across the world. We’ve grown our Employee Resource Groups from 6 to 13 and they act as a critical vehicle for amplifying our culture and belonging. We’ve also held over 100 talent outreach programs in partnership with a vast array of talent experts to help us identify underrepresented talent we want to see at Spotify. We have developed unique diversity programs to attract top talent, like our US fellowship program and AMP Development (Business Marketing rotational program) initiative just to name a few. We have also taken very intentional steps to reduce bias at every stage of our candidate evaluation process.
In addition, we have also launched a number of prominent campaigns on Spotify (the service) to voice matters that impact us, our employees, the creator community and our users (Pride, Women’s History, Black History, Latin Heritage, the list goes on). Our focus was never just on reporting or even improving our diversity numbers, it’s on making sure that all diversity matters. That’s why we also measure inclusion yearly. Watch this space, we will share this year’s inclusion findings next month along with our planned actions!
This is just the beginning
While we are very happy to finally have published our data, this is really just the beginning. Our grand plan for the future is to step up as a leader in this space. We want our band members’ diversity to reflect that of the world around us, on all levels. And we want our employees to report a strong sense of belonging, regardless of which group they belong to. We want a climate in our organization and offices where everyone can feel welcome and valued; employees, guests, partners and creators alike.
Yet, for now, we have some serious work to do specifically around increasing the share of senior female leaders and focus on female representation in our technology organization, diversifying our racial landscape in the US, investing in the intersectional experiences of our employees, and ensuring our service is welcoming to all. That’s a lot of work that still needs to be done, so we’d better get back to it. Read more about the numbers here, where we will keep publishing diversity numbers annually from now on, and stay tuned for the results of our inclusion survey next month.
It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, what you look like, or what music you love. We depend on our diversity for innovation, progress and a great environment for everyone.
How self-led workshops are supercharging our teams
The mission of our Learning and Development team is simple: Enable and empower all of our band members to learn faster than the world is changing.
That way we can keep innovating and delighting our end users, make it possible for more music and entertainment creators to live off their work, and let millions of fans enjoy and be inspired. I have written more about our approach to faster learning in this blog post. In this one, I will focus on team learning.
Why focus on teams?
Most of us do our daily work and learning in a team environment. We talk about teams all the time. Either because we are part of one, or we are managing one. Or because our job is to support other teams – like we do in the GreenHouse team (that’s Spotify language for the “Learning & Development team”). So developing teams and making it easy for them to learn together is a top priority.
Team development at Spotify
In GreenHouse we have a selection of support, training, and workshops available to teams to help them develop and work better together, get more productive, and innovate together more efficiently. Many of these items are founded on improving team collaboration, things like:
Building trust (creating awareness and accepting similarities and differences)
Driving change (things change a lot, all the time!)
Connecting individual values with team and company values to create a purpose.
Teams of leaders who need to be a part of one team while also leading another, get a bespoke team development platform called: Building a High Performing Team. This program is based on the research by PhD. Susan Wheelan on group development and how to operate through the different maturity stages of a team.
The commitment to grow and develop as both individuals and teams is amazing here, and the interest in development initiatives and programs is huge. So we were struggling a bit with facilitator bandwidth. We do have a healthy number of Learning & Development professionals in the GreenHouse team, but we also have hundreds of teams and offices in more than 50 locations. And we are growing fast, which means we need to constantly think about how an initiative will scale without going bland and generic on us.
So we needed a solution for us to reach everyone and expand beyond facilitator-led team offerings. We knew that we wanted to stick to our beliefs about mastery and autonomy. And as we operate in a complex and changing environment, it’s essential that everyone stay in the driver’s seat of their own development. But we as the Learning and Development team need to provide the right vehicle and fuel.
Do It Yourself team training smorgasbord
What we are trying out right now, is a new team section in our learning portal where teams can find a whole array of self-led workshops to support in developing the team. They are ready to go. Just push play!
As we are devoted fans of Wheelan’s research and findings on how to develop productive teams, we have designed this space according to the development stages of a team, to make it possible for everyone to find what they need to take their team to the next level, and to connect back to the team development for leaders. This way everyone gets the opportunity to learn about team maturity phases, we can spread the knowledge to all the hundreds of teams in the company at a rate they choose themselves, and without hiring an army of L&D professionals that spoon-feed it to them.
We are convinced that we will get faster and better as a company when all the teams get access to this knowledge in a format that is adapted for each stage. Sharing the same language and understanding of how teams develop will help us stay nimble and adaptable both when we’re building new teams, and when we’re working in existing ones.
How to run a self-led workshop
A team that wants to learn about the development stages and jump right in at their own level can start with doing a Team Development-check, to see which stage they are at. The results will lead them to the right section in the extensive library of workshops connected to each stage. The workshops come with guidelines, facilitator- and presentation decks. The team can also choose to just dive in and pick-and-mix workshops for team days or off-sites as needed and wanted. Our Learning and Development partners are always near and ready to advise on next steps (even more so now than before as they’re not being pulled between facilitating workshops).
But of course the work doesn’t end after the workshop, in fact, that is when the real work begins for the team; when they apply the learnings to their day-to-day work and step by step become tighter and more efficient as a team and learn from each other. This aspect is a priceless benefit.
We are only in the beginning stages of this, and the interest so far has been amazing. We are using the team section smorgasbord to plan team development and off-sites. Managers do it together with their Learning and Development partner and we see a great development where team training is planned with a greater sense of purpose, and schedules are set up per team to really get to what each team needs.
We can’t wait to evaluate this and get back to you with some data on how it is changing our development curve! Team development on all levels is too important to be an exclusivity reserved for the leadership team. And it needs to happen all the time, not when a facilitator has an opening. This way all teams can develop all the time and everywhere. Faster than the world is changing.