6 things we learned about what People Ops means to Marie Krebs and Will Beaton

As part of our series within RecWorks on ‘What is HR/People Ops to you?’ in which we are interviewing professionals from the HR and People Ops industry’, Evangeline Richards and I managed to get some time with Marie Krebs (People Ops Lead at Moonpay) and Will Beaton (Head of People at MyTutor) to get their thoughts on the shifting tides of this industry and find out what their priorities are.

You can see the full Q&A here

If you don’t have time to watch, here were six things we learned when we spoke to Marie and Will.

1. Whilst traditional HR is seen as ‘Top-Down’ People Operations aspires to be ‘Bottom-Up’

Marie gives a useful example of how People Ops seeks to put people at the centre of any process; so in the case of Learning and Development (L&D), rather than sending processes down the line from top management and crossing fingers that staff will follow them at each successive level, instead as a People Head, ask yourself “how do we design L&D so that people will actually want to engage with it” and get as much feedback as you can all the way up to the top in order to implement it.

2. Identify skill gaps as you scale up

If you start to grow as a business, Will recommends you quickly work out where the knowledge needs to be placed in order to deal with new challenges that expansion brings, whether it be Compliance, Branding or L&D. And once these people are in place, make the most of them! As he says from his own work “build the specialism in the team, and then have them partner across the business, or they might work collaboratively on projects together.” Marie also adds “and always have a lawyer at the end of the phone, this is a must have!”

3. Ask for frequent feedback to get the best results from your teams

Marie uses a ‘going to the dentist’ analogy which we love — in other words have regular checkups rather than one, groaning annual staff survey. Firstly, because it stops it becoming a hugely pressured ‘event’ which creates stress and anxiety. Secondly, “the least scary the implementation you are going to have to do, as it’s going to be short incremental change” she notes. And thirdly, because it’s just not a very agile way to get the quick temperature of your team. Instead, our experts recommend you “embed feedback to all your processes” in quick and painless ways. What platform or process you use (Pulse surveys, Lattice, Officevibe etc) is up to you, just make sure you show clearly any changes implemented as a result to encourage staff to continue to share in this way.

4. Show vulnerability in your leadership

Everyone gets it wrong sometimes, and we’re all under pressure. So lead by example to foster a positive, reflective and accepting work culture. Will gives an excellent example of something they do regularly in his company — “In our ‘All hands’ session every month we always have a spotlight area which is basically us holding up our hand and saying ‘this is something I have not done well enough and this is what I am going to do about it.’” Marie suggests that senior management could also share their own 360 feedback to staff, something she says, Raj at Learnerbly does really well. But also cautions that you should not make these gestures purely for face value, and that vulnerability is ultimately about “authenticity, not simply over sharing.”

5. Be open about your guiding principles to attract the level of talent you want

Be vocal, be clear about your philosophy, “and make sure that whatever decision you make, you are staying true to that” Will advises when it comes to driving your work. Not only will this help you stay on course in terms of your vision for your business, but it will also draw like-minded colleagues and talent into your teams because they will see something they like, and want to be part of it.

6. Psychological safety needs to be seen to be practiced by everyone

It’s all well and good preaching to your team the need to look after themselves, but if you as a manager are clearly under stress yourself, and don’t ask for help, you are not really leading by example and as Will says this filters down; “when you see the senior leaders not embodying these behaviours.. other staff don’t feel they have that safety to do it themselves.”

Want to read more? Check our Marie’s ‘What is People Operations’ post here.

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