Insights from Shimrit Paley Markette, Chief People Officer of Second Nature
As organizations navigate the challenges of remote and hybrid work environments, the role of people leaders in fostering employee growth and connection has become paramount. In an interview with Jason Lavender, CEO and Co-Founder of Electives, Shimrit (Shim) Paley Markette, the Chief People Officer of Second Nature, shared her expertise and valuable insights on developing people, building strong communities and embracing the power of remote work.
Highlights from the conversation include:
- Why the employee experience and people development must be prioritized.
- How remote work promotes diversity.
- The importance of intentional connections and collaboration.
People are the largest budget line, and people leaders need to treat them that way.
“There is an ever-changing focus [for people leaders] from risk and compliance to strategic operations,” shared Shim when talking about how the role of people leaders has been evolving. It’s the job of the people team, Shim noted, to ensure a positive employee experience with people development front and center for every step of employment, including:
- The best people are added to the team.
- Everyone is onboarded thoughtfully.
- There is a plan in place to develop people.
- Proactive retention strategies are ongoing.
“You know,” continued Shim, “there are certain things we do that are very, very tactical. But every interaction you have is about giving people opportunity…. Literally just inviting people into the room and giving them a voice can be in itself, development.”
A culture of developing people starts from the top down and must be included in KPIs.
When leaders prioritize learning – by dedicating learning time, by championing learning through participation or simply by setting clear expectations – it creates a culture of developing people, which boosts retention rates and opportunities for internal promotions, according to Shim.
“When [developing people] becomes part of this management contract — when we go to our managers and say, ’our expectation is that you are going to develop from within, that you are going to be able to promote from within, that you are going to be able to retain your employees,’” explained Shim. “And we go to our employees, and we survey them and say ‘hey, do you feel like your manager is developing you?’ and they say ‘yes,' and then they talk about the positive outcomes of that, there is a flywheel effect.”
Shim also shared that prioritizing people development should be part of leadership performance reviews so it becomes its own KPI, something the business truly values and is a non-negotiable. Shim believes developing people should be part of everyone’s job descriptions, so it is defined upfront as an expectation.
Hiring should focus on finding the right people instead of the right skills.
Shim believes that remote work provides organizations with unparalleled access to diverse talent. By removing geographical barriers, companies can tap into talent pools that were previously inaccessible. This not only enhances diversity within teams but also brings fresh perspectives and new ideas to the table.
"You have so much more access to talent,” commented Shim. “Being able to expand outside [your local geography] is really important” to diversify a previously homogenous workforce.
Shim also believes in hiring for mindset and stated that some of the best hires she’s made were people without prior HR or people experience. Shim gave a shout out to Mike Ariale at Alma and John Little at EverQuote as two such hires made for their raw abilities, work ethic and growth mindset, and they have been phenomenal.
People leaders must make an intentional effort to foster meaningful connections in remote work environments.
In a fully remote company like Second Nature, Shim emphasizes the importance of intentionally nurturing human connections. Every Monday, their CEO leads a weekly kick-off meeting, which the team loves. It creates a sense of unity and provides opportunities for organic cross-team interactions. Shim also highlighted the power of video calls, where employees can see each other's families and pets, fostering a sense of belonging and personal connection.
"Zoom isn't perfect,” noted Shim. “But you can still really get to know somebody on Zoom. You see their families. You see their animals. You know what the weather is outside. Really making sure that people have the opportunity to interact."
Second Nature also brings its employees together in person twice a year. “Those two events are major investments we make as a company, but we believe they have the highest impact. It’s two days of just pure collaboration and team building. We reinforce our vision and our strategy, and that in-person interaction fosters [growth for] the next six months.”
Being a people leader can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be.
Shim believes in the power of communities and networks. “Often, being a people leader can be somewhat lonely,” commented Shim, “but it shouldn’t be. You have your first team, the leadership team you’re part of and other folks in the people leadership space. I’ve felt blessed to have learned a lot from others in this space.”
Shim encourages people leaders to prioritize learning and sharing and to tap into their networks and ask for help. “Never be embarrassed to raise your hand and ask what other people are doing. You may be surprised by how much folks are willing to help.”
Hear more from Shim:
- Developing people starts at the top: Shim shares how when leaders prioritize learning, it creates a culture of developing people.
- Fostering connections at remote companies: Shim emphasizes the importance of intentionally nurturing human connections.
About Shimrit Paley Markette
Shim Markette is the Chief People Officer at Second Nature, a fully remote company whose SaaS technology is redefining professional property management. With her passion for developing people and creating inclusive work environments, Shim leads the charge in fostering growth mindsets, building strong communities and embracing the power of remote work. She has extensive experience and expertise in recruiting, performance management, people strategy, people analytics, employee development, remote-first work, DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging) and company culture development.
Before her role at Second Nature, Shim served as the SVP of People Operations at EverQuote, where she played a pivotal role in shaping and driving the company's people initiatives. With her extensive experience and dedication to empowering employees, Shim continues to inspire and drive positive change, making a significant impact in people leadership.
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