In this episode of Underrepresented in Tech, Allie and Michelle discuss what you should be looking for or creating as far as company culture! And not only that, Michelle has an amazing announcement!
This episode was sponsored by Ninja Forms. Ninja Forms is WordPress form building simplified. Build beautiful, user friendly forms that will make you feel like a professional web developer. No code required.
Michelle Frechette, Allie Nimmons
Allie Nimmons 00:02
Welcome to the Underrepresented in Tech podcast hosted by Michelle Frechette and Allie Nimmons. Underrepresented in Tech is a free database, but with the goal of helping people find new opportunities in WordPress and tech overall.
Michelle Frechette 00:17
Allie Nimmons 00:19
Hi, Michelle. How are you?
Michelle Frechette 00:22
I am good. I’m cold, but I’m good. It’s only like 11 degrees Fahrenheit here today, but that’s okay. It’s sunny. And I have my slippers on. I have a sweater so we’re good.
Allie Nimmons 00:32
Cool. Yeah, it’s been super cold here too. I mean, not 11 degrees. But I think last night it got down. Well, I mean, yesterday it hailed here in Austin. It was low 30s which is it’s that’s the coldest it’s been since I moved here last July.
Michelle Frechette 00:46
I believe it.
Allie Nimmons 00:47
Yeah. Is is pretty cold. I prefer cold weather to hot weather.
Michelle Frechette 00:53
I like in between.
Allie Nimmons 00:56
Yeah. Ideally, I like in between. But if I had to pick one of the extremes, I’m a cold weather girl.
Michelle Frechette 01:02
I love when people post like on Facebook and stuff like “The people who complained about the heat in the summer are not allowed to complain about the cold in the winter.” And I’m like, I reserve the right to complain about extremes. Yeah, sue me.
Allie Nimmons 01:14
I like complaining about everything all the time.
Michelle Frechette 01:20
I love it. I love your topic for today. So why don’t you lead us in and tell us what your idea was talk about today?
Allie Nimmons 01:25
For sure. For sure. Well, I heard about this amazing new event that’s coming.
Michelle Frechette 01:31
Oh, tell me!
Allie Nimmons 01:33
It’s called WP Career Summit? I don’t know. I don’t know if you’ve heard of that. Is that does that ring a bell for you?
Michelle Frechette 01:40
Um, it’s it’s faintly familiar. I may have built the website yesterday.
Allie Nimmons 01:45
Well, I applied to speak at WP Career Summit this morning. And the spoiler alert the people who listen to our podcast may – if I get chosen to speak that is – may get a early peek of my topic. I… The the talk that I submitted. Rewind, backup. WP career Summit is meant to distribute content about hiring and getting hired. From what I gathered of the description, right? That was where my focus was like, information for people who are looking to hire or information people who are looking to be hired. Crum, Which was kind of tough for me at first, because I’m like, I open my own business right now. And I don’t, I don’t have any employees. So I was like, what can I really reasonably talk about right now, that is that would be applicable to this, to this event? I started thinking about like, reasons why either I’ve left companies before, or reasons why I haven’t applied for jobs before. And a lot of it comes down to company culture, like the culture that that company builds. And I can’t think of any other verbs right now. But and a lot of that comes out…
Michelle Frechette 03:07
Allie Nimmons 03:07
Yeah, creates, perpetuates, supports, sustains, all that kind of stuff. And a lot of times you can tell a company’s culture, before you even like walk in the door, quote, unquote, I can often tell a lot based off of their social media, based off of the way that other people who already work there talk about that company, or don’t talk about that company, I can tell based off of the website, sometimes what their culture might be like. And so I picked that topic to talk about, because I think it’s important for both sides of the equation, right? If you’re looking for a job, and you’re an underrepresented person, a lot of times the company culture can have a huge impact on your experience as an employee in a particular place. Because so many tech companies have a very specific type of culture that they like to sustain, that is not very inclusive, and is not very diverse. So being able to determine that before you even apply is really handy and helpful. And business owners need to know and be aware of like, what is the vibe that I’m putting out there? What is the culture that I’m sustaining? Maybe you do have a really great company culture, and you’re not communicating that to the people who are thinking about applying to work for you. So like, how can you do that? So yeah, I thought we could talk a little bit about that today on the podcast. f
Michelle Frechette 03:42
Allie Nimmons 04:37
What are your thoughts and feelings?
Michelle Frechette 04:39
No, I think you’re absolutely right. So there’s been there have been places where I’ve worked before where as soon as I walked in the door after I got hired, I was like, “Oh my god, what am I doing here?” This is – you can almost like the difference between how rosy everything is in an interview versus like the palpability of despair when you walk in the place? Yeah, one particular place in mind, right? It was a very small company. There are literally four employees. I was the fourth employee. And as soon as I walked in the door, I was like, I have made a grave error. I think I lasted three months, until I found something else to go to. And then I literally quit on a Friday and said, I’m not coming back. Like, I didn’t give two weeks notice. It’s like, This is it. I’m done. I’ve already packed my bag. Everything’s in my car. I’m out. Because that’s how horrible it was. So yeah, I think it’s super important. I mean, companies when they’re hiring, look for you to be a good fit but it’s so important to remember that when you are interviewing at a company, you are making a determination of whether or not you want to work at that place, too. So I’m constantly telling people, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to go back for a second interview. You can say in the middle of an interview, I don’t want to waste any more of your time, I’ve already decided this isn’t a good fit for me and get up and leave. I mean you’re not beholden to anybody to try a job just because it was offered to you, even if the money is amazing. If you’re gonna be miserable, it’s not worth it. So yeah, so fit is super important. Because culture is where that fit comes in. Right?
Allie Nimmons 06:15
Yeah, absolutely. And there’s so many red flags that I’ve kind of learned over the years. Because like, prior to me starting to work in WordPress, I didn’t really have a lot of jobs. I started in WordPress really young, like, I, I worked in maybe three different places before this and it was always just sort of like, I’m poor, straight out of college, and I really need a job. So like, Are you hiring? Yes. Okay, I’ll work here. And the culture and the fit wasn’t as important to me. But as I get older, it becomes more and more important. And it becomes more and more apparent to me when the culture is wrong. Right. I think we’ve talked about this on the podcast. But if I even just go to the website, and I see, you know, all those awful buzzwords we hate like “Ninja” and “Rockstar” and “Guru.” And like, that’s not the culture I want to be a part of, right? I always look at a company’s about page or team page. If I can’t see any faces of the people that work there, or at least see some names, that’s, that’s weird to me. Right? That’s for sure that that kind of shows that there’s not a lot of – A) That there’s too much turnover. Right? And so they can’t keep up the profiles on the website, or that the people, the people that work there aren’t really proud of being there, or the people who own the place are not super proud of like, I want to see, because and also the thing I look at, I hate. And there are companies in WordPress that do this. And so I don’t want to make anyone feel badly. But I really hate when companies call themselves a family. Or when you know, that I was really, you know, “our employees are all.. it’s like we’re family.” No, no, no, we’re not.
Michelle Frechette 07:59
Allie Nimmons 07:59
We’re all here to make money. Are you kidding me? Like, I consider certain people in WordPress, like family, I consider you like family. But that is because we have a connection that if both of us stopped working in WordPress today, we would still be friends. You know?
Michelle Frechette 08:16
Allie Nimmons 08:17
And so that’s a huge red flag for me. Right? Like, oh, look, join our family. Absolutely not. Do not, do not manipulate me like like that. That’s that to me is a form of emotional manipulation that companies do sometimes, inadvertently, sometimes you really want to mean that, but it’s not healthy.
Michelle Frechette 08:36
Like, I don’t want to work for my dad, and I don’t want to work for anybody that’s like my dad. So yeah, if that’s what family means, then let’s not do that now.
Allie Nimmons 08:44
Yeah, exactly. Um, so yeah, those are like things, like just looking at a website. Those are those tells me a lot about the culture. As a woman, as a black person, I really like to see on a company website or on their social media, like, do you… what do you do for those communities? Right, like, is your company culture, does that include, you know, giving money to charities or giving money to organizations, uplifting and including people of color and women? Like, even if you don’t have anybody working for you at the moment who falls into one of those boxes, do you share content from people like that? Right? Like, all of that kind of stuff is really important to me. And this is all even before I might have even like had an interview. Right?
Michelle Frechette 08:50
Mm hmm. Absolutely.
Allie Nimmons 09:14
Um, I feel like I’m talking a lot you go.
Michelle Frechette 09:39
Tag, you’re it! Absolutely. You know, I’ve been places, I’ve worked places before, where I was the first woman to work there. I’ve been played. I’ve worked places where I was the youngest person. I’ve worked places before where I was the oldest person and all of those come with different levels of maybe anxiety, right? Like the being the youngest person, you’re sure you’re going to be looked on as a person who knows nothing. Being the oldest person, you’re sure you’re going to be looked at as the person who knows nothing, especially in technology, right? I mean, it’s true. And being a woman, you’re sure you’re gonna be looked at as the person who knows nothing. So it doesn’t matter where you fit in those kinds of places. When – I think I mentioned this before- when I did work for my father’s company, 30 years ago. It was 30. Oh, my God, I’m so old. It was 30 years ago I worked for my father’s company. And one of the ways that we were evaluated annually, was we did that 360 type review where other people had to give their inputs on how you worked. I was the office manager at the time, right? I just graduated college, whatever. And it’s an engineering company. So one of the things you were to evaluate people on was their technical skill. Well, the engineers didn’t think about the fact that I had to be technically good at my job, not technically good at their job. So they all gave me like a one out of five. Luckily, my dad, who was like, who owned the company said, yeah, they didn’t understand the assignment. So we’re not going to include that metric on your evaluation. Because I technically knew my job incredibly well. They couldn’t do my job, just like I couldn’t do their job. I wasn’t designing processing equipment, right? So. So having an understanding of what somebody’s role is, is just as important and how that culture works. Because if your job is not to build a website, then you should not be looking at somebody and evaluating their skillset and their fit in the company on how they might build a website. It’s like, the old adage about, like, you could… you can’t teach a fish to ride a bicycle, so you shouldn’t evaluate them on whether or not a fish can ride a bicycle.
Allie Nimmons 11:39
Michelle Frechette 11:40
Or something like that.
Allie Nimmons 11:41
And even just what I got out of that is like, understanding what the people you work with really do, like having that kind of interdepartmental. Like, I hate working at places, hate is a strong word. I dislike working at places where the departments are very separate. And it’s like, you know, maybe only the department heads talk to each other, but nobody else has any sort of communication. Because you’re not, you’re not understanding the big picture. You’re not getting an appreciation, like those who just mentioned, don’t have an appreciation for what other parts of the team do. So as an example, when both of us worked at Give at the same time, I really loved when we had our monthly, we had a monthly all team meeting. And we all every, every, every everybody, no matter where you worked at the company, got on a call, all of us together. And all of the departments shared, you know, what was going on and like gave particular people shout outs and like, it was a really, really awesome, overall, look at everything that was going on. It just put a lot of things into perspective. And, you know, when I would hear about, like, how many calls the customer support team would do that month? Or like, how many… how many subscriptions? Jeff specifically got that because he was always the one to get the most right. Like, I never really spoke with Jeff or had that because like, we were doing our own things all the time. But every month like hearing about how great Jeff did, I’m like, now I have this really positive, like loving impression in my head of “Jeff is just a really hard worker who’s really good at his job.” And like that, as a simple like, culture thing is so important. For like, not a lot of effort too, right? Like, I feel like people like “oh, we have to reinvent our entire company culture. And this is going to be so much work. We have to hire all these like consultants and blah, blah, blah.” Just give people the opportunity to appreciate each other. And I’m trying to think what like other examples of culture things that I really liked. A lot of it just came down to like having access to each other, having access to other people, being able to appreciate other people. And on the flip side of that, right is, like we talked about just now, like the whole family thing. Like I feel like some companies are like, they go too far, to try to like, have all these perks and all these wonderful things that you can do and gifts and blah, blah, blah. And it’s like that, that to me is not really culture. That still reads to me as like emotional manipulation, to where it’s like, well, if you go into work, and there’s a foosball table and free snacks, and you know, all of these really cool things, we can treat you like garbage. Because, you know, we provide such a fun environment and like,
Michelle Frechette 14:33
Right! We balanced it! We balance the fact that we abused you on one side by giving you foosball and a cereal bar on the other. So that doesn’t work.
Allie Nimmons 14:42
It makes me sad and I’ve worked at places that have done that, right? Like given employees really great things and then kind of dangled that above them like, “Well look how nicely we treat you. Why are you not absolutely killing yourself for us?” Because of how and… So like when we first started working at Give together, I remember very clearly, my first day of work, you Slack DMed me and said, “Hey, welcome to the team! I want to send… what’s your email, I want to send you a Starbucks gift card.” And I was already like, “Oh, no, it begins!” Like, I was super… I was scared of that, Michelle. I was really scared of that, because I was like, I do not want to be emotionally manipulated. I don’t want to be given gifts. And and, you know, have that kind of that, have that start over again. And of course, I realized over time that like, you were just being nice and that’s just a thing that you do, right? That’s not a company policy or anything like that.
Michelle Frechette 15:34
That’s just how I welcome other women into the company.
Allie Nimmons 15:36
It is really sweet and I appreciated it. Um, yeah, I think companies need to keep that kind of stuff in mind too. Where like, company culture is not just like spoiling your employees, it’s actually appreciating them publicly.
Michelle Frechette 15:54
I don’t know if you know this, but when I do hiring, so like when I started hiring people, way before I was working at Give, but but especially when I started working at Give, one of the questions that I asked, and I don’t think anybody has ever told me that they’ve ever heard this question in an interview before. But one of the questions I ask potential employees is other than financial compensation, what is a way that you like to be appreciated for the job that you do? And for some people, it’s like, I really just like an email. I’m just you can call me up and tell me, text me, DM me, whatever. For other people. It’s like they like public praise. Some people like, wouldn’t it be great if you took me to lunch once in a while? I mean, like, depends on what it is right? But even if they don’t necessarily have as a distinct answer, one thing they know is that I like to appreciate people so they know that that’s something that is part of my supervision is that I will find ways to appreciate you when you work for me. And I can’t control all of the budget. I can’t like just give you raises every time you do good stuff. But I certainly can make sure that other people know you’re doing a good job. I can write little notes on your desk. I can do… you might come in and there’s a chocolate bar like anything like that. Because for me that’s making sure that people feel appreciated in a different way than the company. I want them to feel appreciated by their supervisor.
Allie Nimmons 17:15
Yeah. I love that. It’s like your, your work love language.
Michelle Frechette 17:20
Yeah, I did. I did that. It’s not just work, that I do that with my friends. I do that with my family. You know, like, every once in a while, I’ll just Venmo my daughter $30. I’ll be like, you and your husband should go out to dinner tonight.
Allie Nimmons 17:33
Michelle Frechette 17:34
Just because. You know, that kind of thing.
Allie Nimmons 17:35
You’re so cute. You’re a giver, you’re such a giver.
Michelle Frechette 17:40
You know when I can, I do something? For a long part of my life. I didn’t have the ability to give because I didn’t have the the financial coffers to be able to do that, if you will. And I was always the recipient, and I am definitely a pay it forward kind of person. So now that I can I want to do for other people.
Allie Nimmons 17:59
Yeah. That’s what I love about you,
Michelle Frechette 18:02
Right back atcha! If I can, I know we’re running close on time because unfortunately, I have a million meetings today. But I did want to bring things back to the Career Summit if I might, just put a little plugin for that. Yeah. So what people may or may not know about me is in addition to the work that I do at WP or Stellar WP, I did it backwards. Stellar WP, I’m also on the staff at Post Status. And when Corey Miller hired me in to Post Status, I had.. he hired me into to write about underrepresentation and he hired me to write about jobs, because that’s what he saw me doing mostly in the community. And since then, like, you know, I have a bunch of other stuff that I am empowered to do over there. But I said to him very early on, I think we should have a career summit. I’ve never seen anybody talk about jobs in WordPress, really. And I’ve certainly never seen anything that’s actively trying to help people find jobs, other than just putting postings out there. We do that with UnderrepresentedinTech.com by trying to give people better opportunities to be found. But one of the things I wanted to do is take what we’ve learned at WP, at Underrepresented in Tech, take what I’ve learned in other places, my Wednesday tweets for example, and turn it into a really actionable thing and that is WP Career Summit. The website launched this morning WPcareersummit.com. We are not a nonprofit organization at Post Status and so we are actually paying our speakers. It’s not a ton of money but every one of our speakers will be thanked with a $200 stipend. So if you’re interested in speaking on hiring or on ways that people can improve their their job search process, whether that’s how they do interviewing, how they do write their resume, things like that. Go to WPcareersummit.com. Certainly register to attend. It’s free for everybody to attend. If you are a company who is interested in sponsoring, there’s a page about sponsorship. And if you are somebody who would like to talk there’s a page to apply to speak as well. 14 speakers, two tracks, one for job seekers, one for employers. And I am just, if you can’t tell, super excited, super jazzed to be able to put this conference on. Yeah, I’m just super excited about it. So read about it on Post Status. Read about it on WPcareersummit.com. I have heard that it will be appearing on the Tavern today. I’m very, very excited.
Allie Nimmons 20:24
That’s so exciting! I’m really happy for you. You’ve been talking about this idea like, I’ve heard you talk about WP Career Summit as a concept for like a long time. So I’m so happy that it’s finally becoming a real thing. And yeah, I hopefully I will be chosen as a speaker. I know that I don’t get special treatment because of our friendship. But I’m hoping I get chosen as a speaker. And if I don’t get chosen, I will definitely still attend and support and all of that good stuff. Yeah, Congratulations!
Michelle Frechette 20:56
Thank you. And unfortunately gonna wrap it up here. Don’t know what we’re gonna talk about next week. We have some ideas for you. I always like to tease out that we don’t know where to talk about we might actually have some ideas but then you know, things always change. But thank you, Allie for being so amazing.
Allie Nimmons 21:10
Thank you for being so amazing. See you next time. Bye!
Michelle Frechette 21:13
Allie Nimmons 21:17
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