Amanda Lannert is the CEO of Jellyvision, where she's led the company to exceptional growth and national recognition for its diversity and inclusion efforts. Her business strategy is centered on building and curating an exceptional workplace environment.
Lannert's strategy has paid off handsomely; in 2017 they successfully closed a $20 million investment round that positions the company well for the future. The company's press release announcing the fundraise is funny, quirky and a window into the soul of the business and the culture that Lannert has carefully crafted.
I had the opportunity to interview this award-winning CEO about her philosophy on the people side of her business. Her approach is inspiring and accessible, a rare combination. She shared with me five critical components of Jellyvision's human capital strategy.
We understand that job descriptions are commercials.
"They're ads," says Lannert. "They're ads where you're trying to get talented people to give you the vast majority of their waking hours. It is not the place to commoditize and standardize and follow a script. And so, we didn't."
Job descriptions are where you get to show off your unique company culture, explain why your company is a great place to work and impress candidates with the exciting challenges of the job to be filled. Just like you use your company brand to get customers, you should use your employer brand to get great quality applicants--and job descriptions are part of that.
Our people are our product.
"I think up down, left, right, top to bottom, this is a company that knows where its bread is buttered," Lannert states. "There are companies that have six sigma production processes, there are people who have the ultimate algorithm or machine learning capabilities."
Lannert's focus on culture is rooted in a core belief: "We are a company that was, is, and always will be only as good as the people we have building our software, servicing our software and selling it."
Your service can be copied. Your product can be copied. Your strategy can be copied. But your team is wholly unique and your best source of competitive advantage. Companies that think like this are in the position to dominate their market.
Treat adults like...adults.
"We actually have a policy called the 'Graceful Leave Policy,' and you get it on your first day, and it more or less says 'Welcome to Jellyvision, we're so glad you're here, let's talk about you leaving.'"
"What we want to do is start to create an expectation around parting our ways and how to do it gracefully. You're an adult, we're adults, this is a job, and we want you to have a great career here, but there're a number of reasons why you won't, and we want to talk about what we should each try to expect in case we have to part ways."
While arriving on your first day and talking about leaving sounds bizarre, it has the potential to save everyone from heartache down the line. Employees don't stay with companies for 20 years anymore, and no one expects them to, so it's more realistic for you to have a discussion upfront about what happens when their job at your company is no longer a fit. If your employees feel like they can tell you they want to transition to something else, you're given far more notice than two weeks and you'll be better prepared for their departure when the time comes.
We have employees of choice.
Being an employer of choice is a buzzword. For Lannert, it's more than that.
"We're the employer of choice because we have employees of choice. We are very deliberate in hiring interesting, interested people. It's more than Jellyvision. You've got to be nice, you've got to be humble, you've got to be hard working."
"It's that insistence on the full board of the individual that comes here-- and these people are ridiculous. They do great work, they're hilarious over lunch, and then they go home and make the world a better place in their extracurricular activities."
The people you hire are a huge part of why your company is a great place to work. So, don't hire drones -- hire employees that make people want to come into work. At my company, one of our core values is "No Assholes" and we find that it helps us attract applicants that we want to work with, day in and day out.
Diversity starts at the top.
"We went from two out of 17 women to about 50 percent women. It was not deliberate, it was not an intentional strategy, to me, the reality is, we had a female CEO. That's me."
When I became CEO and we started to hire, there was an obvious signal to the marketplace that women can do well at Jellyvision because there is a woman at the top."
There are many great diversity and inclusion programs out there, but the easiest and simplest thing you can do is to make sure your leadership reflects the world you live in. When that happens, your workforce will start to mirror your leadership team.