September 26, 2023
Season 1, Episode 25
Jon and Jay shed light on the foundational elements that make or break an organisation: talent building, engineering skills, and workplace culture.
In this episode, you will learn:
Themes Covered in the Podcast:
Jon Shanks 0:13
Welcome to cloud unplugged, I’m Jon shanks and I’m Jay Keshur. And today, as mentioned in the previous episode, we are talking about building talent and more academies of like how you can grow.
Jay Keshur 0:28
I guess the skills in your business mostly around really engineering? Yeah, the things that we know. Right. So Cloud engineering, I mean, sort of No.
Delivery management, product management, some of the things. Yeah. And then what maybe what characteristics lean into to some of these things, and sales and marketing as well? Yeah, really, I guess it’s all like growth, as it is a good way to grow people into different roles and time. And you’re not just going off to hire people that have like, completely debt. Yeah. So to speak, and then they’re going to come in and then just do the doing. Yeah. And this is about how do you build that talent pool up so that you have people that are going on a journey with you and your business growing with your business, and so much to be said about people that kind of understand, like, where you’ve been, you know, like when when someone has been in a business for a long time. And they’ve become like, super valuable to the business because they just know how it operates and stuff. But getting that fresh kind of perspective on things, bringing new people into the, into the industry, even like cross sector. So people that are kind of joining tech, or this domain for the first time from different industries are not like in the new to work. Yeah, that moving from another domain is really super, super useful. It like if you kind of go on the journey that we’ve had in terms of like, engineering, and getting to learn and learn sales and marketing and then applying the same engineering practices to those domains. And how useful that’s been. It’s, it’s yeah, like, pretty cool. Yeah. Useful, non useful.
Jon Shanks 2:12
Could it but yeah, I think it’s got limitations. Oh, sure. Definitely. But yeah, it’s been good. It’s been good learning. But also think about like, because there’s so many different routes, like apprenticeship apprenticeships.
And, you know, maybe returned to work people, or universities, or maybe even people that aren’t not even either of those. And just basically people that are fresh out of school, or if you some of our skills like Cloud, do you need to go to uni to be good at Cloud, there’s so many cloud courses on there. There’s so much out there for diving, you might have a hobby, you might just really enjoy it as a hobby, but never studied it. So to build a good team, I guess, do you think you should have a mix of those things? I genuinely think it starts with passion, I believe that you’re never really going to be good at something that you don’t have a passion for. I really good at something, right? If you’re kind of just like mom and along and doing the job, and you’re not passionate about it, then you’ve got no curiosity to learn more about it and drive it and things like that. So yeah, like you said, you could come from any level. But
Jay Keshur 3:22
unless you’re kind of passionate about it, I just don’t think that you’d learn very fast, or have any real desire to pick those things up quickly. And then retain that knowledge. Because it’s about retaining that and building on that retain knowledge. Yeah, true. Let’s say let’s say you are kind of
your you are passionate, passionate about, let’s say tech or something like that. And you’ve not gone to university. What would you say? Like is a good way of breaking into the industry?
Jon Shanks 3:54
Because if you’re a business, and there’s lots of routes for to to attract people through. You know, what would it take to make it work and obviously going to have to have to have the right internal infrastructure
Jay Keshur 4:06
to train that person and make sure they’re supported and stuff? Well, yeah,
Jon Shanks 4:10
there’s a lot of things that you probably want to explore before people come through. So you need to first of all work out. What are all the things that we want somebody to go through that tells us that they’ll work well? Inside this organisation? Yeah. And that could be like communication, you know, collaboration, not even really just technical skills aptitude. And so you’d have to think through those things. Then you’ve got even the selection criteria. Post that you know, the interview stages once you’ve kind of gone through those bits. And then you’ve got to then train those people up. And so you’ve got to have the right material and train them and then they’ve got to be mentored enough. Because obviously, you’re not going to learn everything in such a short period of time to be exceptionally you know, like nailed To the industry after like six weeks or whatever, yeah, so then you gotta have to have the right coaching and mentorships in place so that you can grow those people. And you’ve got to have those types of people that really enjoy that. And really enjoy coaching people that really enjoy, you know, investing in others. Yeah. As much as everything else, and that’s quite a, you know, once you’ve got those things in foundationally, because they’re the, they’re the main things to look at. And then I guess, then it boils down to where you find them? And what type of people that you may want a mix of. But yeah,
Jay Keshur 5:40
yeah, there’s a lot of things.
Jon Shanks 5:42
There’s a lot of things, but then I think, I guess you’re you’re whittling
Jay Keshur 5:45
down from all of the people looking for jobs, that are kind of, you know, wanting to come into screen only. So that’s what I mean, right. So in normal kind of graduate programmes, or, you know, kind of quite wide, wide reaching popular programmes, you’d have literally hundreds or 1000s of people applying for a single role. And there might only be like, say, four or five in that grad intake at a certain company. So going through that kind of shortlisting process, to then get people into a programme just as much as as the company, you’re trying to find the right person for the company, that person is also learning and exploring what it is to be in that industry. And they might drop out. So and that’s quite, there’s quite a high percentage of people that do, right. So it’s a kind of fit both ways, until you get to the kind of, you know, then being in your business and going through the probation stages and learning stages and all that kind of stuff. And then growing. Yeah, but it’s a pretty good thing to do to kind of pass on your skills and to keep people kind of coming in to, I mean, I
Jon Shanks 6:59
still I mean, that kind of met the company, rock arrow, Q. And I speak to them about what they done. Yeah. And they didn’t like a phenomenal job of like, a lot of lessons learned. And then figuring out where things worked, where, where things didn’t work well over time. But put a lot of energy into perfecting it as much, obviously, it’s never done thing, it’s always gonna change. That was really insightful in terms of like, actually what they’d done already. And even mentioning like Job centres and things they said they actually had success from that. Like, not just even though the actual legit DWP jobs are actually going to go out and and registering the job at a job centre. Would for me I know sounds bad, but I
Jay Keshur 7:45
wouldn’t even think to do that. Yeah,
Jon Shanks 7:47
I guess because you kind of think. I don’t know, you’ve got like a bit of here in the UK a bit of a negative connotation. Anything government a little bit like it’s not very effective. It’s a bit harsh. But, you know, given the news kind of warranted, I suppose degree but
Jay Keshur 8:02
I genuinely didn’t, I completely forgot that Job Centre exists. Because you just you you think about like LinkedIn, and like, you know, all of these different kind of sourcing platforms, if you will, on the internet. And there’s actual physical things called Jobcentres. Yeah.
Jon Shanks 8:20
Wow. I know. And so it didn’t really dawn on me that to be fair, which is kind of obvious, but it was set to a degree Exactly. Just forget about it. So like, what did in your own external world? Yeah, it’s exposed to things. But they’d obviously done quite a lot of this stuff. And then obviously, we’ve also worked with other companies like net builder, I think, and got bought by QA, consulting, etc. And they obviously did similar models. And does that make us Academy and all these different ones. And then other third, bigger organisations then tend to use for financial institutions. So there’s like patterns for this stuff. And they bring big cohorts in and from different sources and kind of go through, you know, trying to sift out who the right fit is and who is and who’s going to be able to commit to this type of skills are looking for. But I think the biggest thing is trying to work out where you’re waiting to people, because I think over time, depending on where you are in the stage of business, what you need softer skills. I don’t know why but I think soft skills, if you get the aptitude, right aptitude, right? Unless you’re looking for an absolute genius, you know, like somebody that just just has a real propensity to something that’s quite unique compared to the rest like they’re in the very small percentile of the of that industry. Then the rest is probably learnable. Like most people, if you’ve got the right attitude, and the right attitude can and commitment to it, can learn it. If they’re committed to do so. I think it’s harder to learn softer skills. Official right there just Trinsic to exactly now that your traits and characteristics are great, yeah. 100%. So, yeah, I’m definitely in favour probably more on the soft skills unless you need. Yeah, right. And people for some reason, they’ve got very, really good experience that you’re going to wait. Actually, the soft skills maybe aren’t quite as important. Yeah. Then the capability? And yeah, they actually I don’t mind, you know, the more weighted on the capability than the other one. So, just depends on what it is you’re looking for. But
Jay Keshur 10:30
yeah, I guess the value that each each kind of person brings is so unique to the person to a certain degree rather than the role, right? Because even if you don’t necessarily have you know, attitude, aptitude, and all that kind of stuff, culture is another thing that changes massive massively every time, every time you recruit someone into the business, you are changing the culture of the business just a little bit. Yeah. And that can have quite a huge impact to the business as well. So so like, you
Jon Shanks 11:04
know, a company that’s got a culture that you admire, I don’t know, like, if I suppose you might only ever know of the big brands, that’s what I mean,
Jay Keshur 11:10
right? Like, so there’s a, there was a book that I read called, no rules, rules. Have you heard that? So it’s about the kind of rules or lack thereof at Netflix. And it was, it was quite, you know, talked about the culture at Netflix, and the fact that there are no rules or the rules are like, really, really, like, they’re super simple. Like, their expense policy, as an example is, do what’s right for the business. Right? It’s not like, oh, it’s true, though. What do you mean? Is that there? Who decides what’s right, exactly, that’s the point. So you create something really ambiguous and set that as the principle or the policy or the rule or whatever. And the whole book was about that. Is, is that behaviour or culture that that drives?
Jon Shanks 12:06
Obviously, by by having no roles? To define your own roles? Kind of? Simply you would have to it
Jay Keshur 12:12
wouldn’t be then rule, but then that’s the culture. And that was what people do, right? It’s not really whether or not you have roles. It’s just what culture is what people do. That’s how you define culture.
Jon Shanks 12:24
Yeah, dynamics between people. Obviously, like, Yeah,
Jay Keshur 12:29
but that’s an internal interaction. Yeah, normally, it’s a favour for,
Jon Shanks 12:33
but I think a lot of leaders, like the leadership of a team will dictate quite a lot. Or most culture is top down, always, yeah. Because if you’ve got a good if you’ve got certain leadership in there hiring people in that team, and you know, that’s going to create a dynamic of a team. And if that team is quite different to a dynamic of another team, and they’ve got to work together, and you’ve got different types of leaders and different types of dynamics going on.
Jay Keshur 12:55
But it only goes so far, right? So like, let’s say, like, say, Amazon, Jeff Bezos isn’t exactly defining the culture of like, Amazon warehouse work generally. And like, even even in the example that you gave,
Jon Shanks 13:09
didn’t he create certain rules? Where teams couldn’t? Teams had to like the API for that for the engineering? Yeah, API’s is like, you can’t really talk to each other that needs to be defined. And that would have defined the culture presumably like that, not to put rules in place like that, that’s top down. And I imagine he had he has influenced the culture just by defining what he expects people to behave like in terms of even engineering standards.
Jay Keshur 13:34
Very easy for for an area that is like that, like, like an engineering teams and things like that. But direct and the same is true of, say, warehouses or, you know, the other kind of stores, Amazon stores and things like that. You Oh,
Jon Shanks 13:51
one of these other rules.
Jay Keshur 13:54
Let’s stop the rules.
Jon Shanks 13:56
was basically you could never wear different coloured gloves. Yeah. Was Wow, that was a big, big uproar. I didn’t know if that one. But yeah, I don’t know about warehouses and things like that. Obviously, that’s, that’s different in the new culture, there might be different rest of Amazon anyway. I mean, as a business overall. So
Jay Keshur 14:15
do you reckon the culture is somewhat set by like the job function, and the company and the size and the size and there’s only
Jon Shanks 14:23
so much but that’s nothing to do with obviously building talent. But however, it is massively important because I think the like you’re setting the culture and the people you’re looking for. Yeah. Yeah, definitely are interlinked, but I do. On the cultural side. It is strange how cultures shift. So even with different people coming and going, like you’ll see a changing culture, depending on the size of your business as well. Even at a micro level, the team, a team culture will change depending on who’s coming and going in it. Yeah, right. So it might not stay the same. Even like micro and macro is obviously different again,
Jay Keshur 15:04
just to kind of go back to the question that you asked me, Is there a culture that you from the outside like aspire to?
Jon Shanks 15:11
I kind of asked you, and then was hoping I have enough time to come up with my own answer. Whilst I’ve watched you struggle, I was like, I’ve got that vacuum of empty space. Brilliant. I could I think I could include the same I was, actually, there’s probably some bits I admired on like working, like working environments, which is, which is a piece of the culture overall, you know, in like, what would you go Google? Like, the food and all these other things? And that was obviously gone away? Exactly. Yeah, I think they’ve stopped that maybe. So there’s bits of it, that sounded kind of, you know, quite good in terms of like treating staff, and giving back to people that are working. And that was quite a nice culture. Because basically, at that point, you are saying you can have that but then people eating the food?
Jay Keshur 16:15
Yeah. I mean, is that really anyway, there’s that but there’s also like that whole? Did you ever did you ever read the book the circle? Or watch the show?
Jon Shanks 16:24
No, that’s not my brother watched that. But he came? No,
Jay Keshur 16:27
no, that may be a different thing. So on to there’s a circle, which is like some reality TV show. But yeah, as I said, is it’s a it’s about like this kind of this company, that’s very Facebook meta, like, it’s really the book is great. But it’s it describes that like, typical Tech campus in like San Francisco, where they’ve got like, beds and slides, and free food, and every everything is like, yeah, everything is in the air, you know, you don’t ever need to leave the campus. But you know, knowing that, like Google and all these places, kind of, you know, their their main headquarters,
Jon Shanks 17:08
mirror episode, kind of kind of like what you do to watch Black Mirror episode where it’s like, in the context of Tech Tech,
Jay Keshur 17:15
yeah. So that it’s great. It’s such so good. The book more so than the film. But when you took when you were talking about Google, it really kind of just reminded me of like, a company’s intention to drive the culture for its benefit, rather than because it’s the right thing to do, necessarily, Jared. I mean, like, yeah, that like, sure. Yeah. gamifying a little bit. Like you’re feeding people. Is it to keep them there longer? Is it because happy employees Great. Better Work? Like what what is that? There’s always a something. Yeah. So maybe culture is defined by intention? More so than the
Jon Shanks 17:58
cynical approach to like, anything come just because like playing with it was like, discovering no one’s really altruistic, because I get to feel good. I
Jay Keshur 18:07
truly believe that no, no one is altruistic. True. No,
Jon Shanks 18:10
any kind is already tarnished. Yeah, well, then we’re never gonna win with that. Because that if it’s like any, if you don’t believe that, well, no, but I mean, then that means that anything that company wants to do is tarnished, because it’s got an ulterior motive to some degree,
Jay Keshur 18:22
potentially. But do you believe just just to go back a little bit? Do you believe that there are real true altruistic acts
Jon Shanks 18:29
to a degree? I wouldn’t say, sounds like, to me, it depends on like, in truth, people can be giving, obviously, whether it’s like you’ve got whether you felt good about it, whether it made you feel better, like all those things, obviously, have a selfish element to them, obviously, because you’ve, you’ve done it, and it and it was a good thing to do. But it also made you feel good. Yeah. So in that context, and yeah, I suppose you could argue, oh, well, is it really altruistic? But I mean, other than someone else, feeling good in the process of doing a good thing? I’m not sure that’s like this level now. Doesn’t mean like, oh, well, that’s the altruistic, like, there’s level. Okay, sorry, for feeling good about a good thing I did.
Jay Keshur 19:09
I guess there’s there’s levels of altruism, right? There’s always gonna be there are some things that are like heavily
Jon Shanks 19:15
doped enjoy. Exactly. turistic about anything.
Jay Keshur 19:26
As long as you feel worse than the thing that it’s supposed to feel nothing net feels like a tax going back to talent, and culture and you know, then Google people that you aspire to. So
Jon Shanks 19:45
just because I like food through a phase of eating, like a lot, honestly, like, especially if I would have found out that people weren’t getting like free breakfast and things like that. I was like, oh my god, I’m spending a fortune right now. years ago,
Jay Keshur 20:04
I’ll take a job.
Jon Shanks 20:06
Free. Actually, I’m like quitting. Literally the cost to me, I’m just my breakfast alone. But no, I think I quite like the, the antithesis of it. And then I’ve worked in companies where you’d have like beer, fridges and beer Fridays, and a beer fridge would come out. I think it used to be on wheels. Which is kind of cool. Because you’d get it move it around everyone else. Yeah, exactly. It was like Val beer. And it commanded some people to like, you know, stop working on come up with joy. And that’s good. And you
Jay Keshur 20:41
follow the drinks cart. Right? So like, kind of
just jump on the drink, Scott. I am the car. No, exactly. It’s been there’s, there’s, there’s places that you’ve worked with. And what what is a bit sad is because of all of the stuff that’s gone on with COVID, and, you know, this, like, the recession and things like that, it feels like a lot of those experiences. People coming into the workforce now won’t necessarily get Yeah, I mean, and that’s, like remote remote and remote working and things like that. That’s that was like, it was a real nice part of that learning workplace kind of massive fan experience.
Jon Shanks 21:28
People. People person anyway, a sense of like, I like being around people. Yeah. But yeah, I couldn’t imagine starting a job in a remote worker. Exactly. Absolutely. No way. So hard to connect me. I couldn’t do it. Honestly. Yeah. So wouldn’t work for me. But there are people that would does work for but I just couldn’t, I just couldn’t do it. But I guess those things again, yeah. Suppose that got culture, even when you’re onboarding people then in training? Yeah. That’d be tricky. I kind of feel like you’d have to do it in person. Yeah. The onboarding?
Jay Keshur 21:58
Oh, for sure. For sure.
Jon Shanks 22:00
That stuff we’ve said, all those things would feed into how someone’s going to fit in. So if you’re going to induct somebody, are you trying to sift through, and you’ve got a certain culture that is, like, other type, and you’re expecting people, you know, you want people to be part of everything and you want, you know, there’s a big social aspect that you’ve kind of really think is very important to the culture of the business. And I suppose you’ve got to look for that. To a degree if it’s really important. Yeah. And, you know, and it helps everybody else and helps them.
Jay Keshur 22:33
I’m always talking about films and TV shows, but you know, Mad Men. Yeah. And, like, smoking is obviously a big thing back then, like there was a culture around smoking and things, drink and drink. Yeah, of course. But it feels like that. I mean, that’s not I don’t see it as a negative thing at all. Smoking, no, as in the fact that we’ve lost that smoking indoors or taking a kind of cigarette break together and things like that, how people won’t necessarily experience that, because it’s a bit weird.
Jon Shanks 23:06
But what So you’re saying you don’t care that it’s gone? I don’t care? Because you didn’t do it. I didn’t smoke. Yeah, exactly. So doesn’t, yeah, we could play up to quite a lot of things. You didn’t do? Yeah, probably won’t carry
Jay Keshur 23:19
probably. But, you know, to a certain degree, there’s, there’s a culture that went with that. And really social getting to know people and you know, that’s how you bond with other people and get to know other parts of the business and things. So there’s a lot that goes that just disappears completely with like remote working. And even like value to the business, because because you’re connecting with someone else in the business, and you’re exchanging ideas and what you’re doing. And yeah, it’s just it, the impact is actually quite high.
Jon Shanks 23:53
I’m trying to like problem solve. I mean, you can kind of do it now digitally remote, but
Jay Keshur 23:59
with like, the mirror and things. The other thing, and this
Jon Shanks 24:02
is little this is a thing that I don’t think you can ever really stop is when someone’s in a room with you, you can say close your MacBooks. Like pre cut your phonebook. So I know if you’re engaged, I can tell because you’re in a room with me what a dictator has a role in meeting distractions ready to focus like, no Macbooks, no laptop, to get in close. No phones, either. Like, we just need to solve this problem. But when you’re remote, you know that it’s like a Slack message popping up or there’s an email thing that might be checking, and they’re on context switching. So they’re kind of half engaged in what you’re trying to do. And then then flip, flip into something else and then coming back. And that’s not very productive. If you’re like, oh, trying to get brain power. Yeah, on a problem. And that’s really hard. You can’t do that digitally. You can’t ever No,
Jay Keshur 24:48
you know what, I bet that there is a app or some sort of mobile device management device, mobile device management thing that forces that to happen
Jon Shanks 25:00
all the apps show, like or
Jay Keshur 25:03
lock screen. But I mentioned I guarantee other apps. I mean, I don’t have never looked at this, but I guarantee you that exists. Someone has thought about that. And it probably is, if you have very dogmatic
Jon Shanks 25:16
but at the same time, like I think, you know, somebody that does get distracted easily. And I will because I can’t help not look at Slack sometimes I’m a person that does it. Yeah. So yeah, exactly. Somebody be chatting to me, and I’ll be like, I’ll have an attention span for a while. And then something else gets my two seconds just like yeah, like that. fluffy dog. Like reading and then I’ll like pretend and like Yeah, yeah, yeah. So yeah, we should. Yeah, I agree. And it’s like, I didn’t really fully hear what you just said. It’s really bad. Cuz you’re like, that’s, I’m allowing myself
Jay Keshur 25:51
now people know that. That’s, that’s when they ask you for.
Jon Shanks 25:55
I literally watched somebody really bad for it as well. And I’ll be like, and I watch people do it all the time. And one another, even if it’s not me, you just think we’re all not paying attention to each other because we’re all got attention span issues here. Because we’re getting sidetracked with
Jay Keshur 26:08
me because of remote working. TV, maybe, maybe no, but you know, Netflix and all of these add these
Jon Shanks 26:16
productivity costs on when you’re focusing on a problem and how committed people are to a solution. It’s really important, hard to like, solve, because you’re like, how do we solve this? And, yeah, anyway, so I don’t know how people do it remotely. I wonder if there’s like been an issue on those things. Maybe not.
Jay Keshur 26:34
I mean, if you’re talking about like, drink problem, this isn’t really
Jon Shanks 26:41
gonna talk about a thing, but I just have a chat, introduce that and then talk about something else. So back to talent, culture, you need it and culture was good to have. Yeah, all the things like, I think in person, definitely, even if I was remote, I would definitely onboard people in person to see how they interact with people and train them up in person, I think personally, but obviously horses because
Jay Keshur 27:09
obviously, we’re always like doing interviews and you know, hiring and things like that. One thing that keeps coming up is like people that don’t put their cameras on. And, and you know, and in obviously, during remote working and, you know, certain cultures in within certain businesses, a lot of people are used to not putting their camera on, right, unless they’re like speaking or not even then. And then you just lose so much. The social behaviour, social interaction,
Jon Shanks 27:38
you know, you don’t get a good connection or field ritual, it’s just a voice you don’t like you’re basically just doing phone interviews.
Jay Keshur 27:45
But even the phone has less latency of an audio call on you know, over the internet, whatever. So, you know, when someone wants to speak, like they make a little noise or an intonation or something that kind of let you know that they’re ready. Whereas on like, on, on on video calling platforms, a lot of the time you’re wanting to date it stream? No, the platform itself has streamed that out, because it’s minimising noise. It’s cancelling noise, background noise, and that that intonation that you might have, like, you know, that’s gone. So you don’t pick up on the same social cues that the person is either trying to interject or say something or whatever. So just like those things, if you can’t see the person, you it’s just not fluid. No matter how in tune you are with what’s going on. Yeah. So
Jon Shanks 28:41
yeah, cameras, maybe that should be party should be told. Yeah, exactly. I’ve never had that in my interviews. Honestly. I’ve strange I don’t ever have all the interviews and I was never not put the camera.
Jay Keshur 28:51
Sometimes it’s because they have a tech issue. And then we have to reschedule or something like that. But yeah, I’ve had that a few times. So interesting. But also, with, you know, when you’re working with customers, or whatever else, it’s a culture that’s You can’t change it coming in coming in there as a client. So yeah, exactly. So I mean, I
Jon Shanks 29:09
get it like, but you can put a background on them, right. So first thing you always put a background on, people are just
Jay Keshur 29:15
like, not used to not wanting to, you know, show their face or not even necessarily the background nowadays. It’s like, Oh, I haven’t done my hair properly or
Jon Shanks 29:26
getting massively off topic. But like, what’s your view when people could have aI filters? So basically, it’s not their face, but you will ever face no,
Jay Keshur 29:35
that’s terrible. No Face. It’s a face I don’t want to be talking to but it’s
Jon Shanks 29:42
not a cat that mean like just just like a tweaked face or like some feet face. Like they feel more comfortable with. Yeah, and would that be but how would you know she was really good. And it was like literally you couldn’t tell
Jay Keshur 29:54
if AI gets so good that that happens. I’m moving to own the impersonal
Jon Shanks 29:59
thing. arrive with your face. And you’ve basically interviewed yourself with a different voice.