I am the VP of Talent @ MURAL, a digital workspace designed to support creative visual collaboration. I am responsible for attracting top talent to scale the company’s rapid growth. By creating a highly functioning talent team using fair and equitable interviewing processes, together we provide a positive candidate experience and drive awareness of MURAL as a leading technology employer.
How big is it?
I lead a distributed team of 22 people now but at the beginning of 2021, there were just 10 of us. In a very short time, we have more than doubled our team size – and we’re still growing! My team includes coordinators, sourcers, and talent partners that drive the recruitment process, as well as a small operations and employer branding team.
Where are your teammates located?
MURAL is 100% remote.
My team is primarily based in the Bay Area with an additional four people in Buenos Aires, four in Chicago, and one each in New Jersey, Atlanta, Austin, Boulder, Portland, Philadelphia, Seattle, Raleigh-Durham, Charlottesville and Mexico City. We’re truly a global team spanning across 5 time zones in 3 countries and about to add more in EMEA.
What does your team do? What are you responsible for?
My team is tasked with bringing top-quality talent into the company. We are responsible for attracting candidates for all positions across engineering, sales, customer support, marketing, product, finance, and operations, running a fair and equitable interview process, and surfacing the most qualified candidates to hiring managers and interview teams. We do all of this, all while providing a great candidate experience.
In order for a remote work culture to work, you must embrace technology to help communicate easily and effectively. Written communication is crucial. This is particularly important in an asynchronous work culture, where you send a message and don’t expect an immediate response. MURAL’s talent team spans many time zones and we are often not all online at the same time. Some suggestions of the software solutions we use:
Since we have grown so fast in such a short period of time, it’s important that everyone is self motivated, adaptable to change, and what we call “experiment like an owner”. It’s one of our core principles, which has helped us foster a culture of doers and helpers.
Strong remote cultures are built on strong connections.
Strong connections are built with Hailey.
In almost every 1:1 with my team, I start by asking if they are happy and if they are enjoying their work. The earlier you uncover problems, the better for everyone. In remote environments, it’s important to ask about their career aspirations and to discuss ways to help them reach their goals. It starts with active listening, then writing it down, and making it happen.
In some cases, it’s difficult to move someone into a position right away and if that’s the case, communicating the timing is key. Be direct, honest, and give constructive feedback so employees know what they are doing well and what they need to work on. It’s never a good idea to assume your team knows their weak spots, or the things that may be holding them back from advancement. In order to be an effective remote leader of a happy productive team, being open and honest communication is key.
In remote environments, it’s important to ask your remote team about their career aspirations and discuss ways to help them reach their goals.
My biggest challenge is time, or more specifically, giving everyone the attention they need to be heard. As a remote team grows larger than 10 people, it’s a good time to consider hiring another Lead or Manager to ensure everyone is getting the attention they require to grow and succeed in their role. This is a challenge even if a team is not remote.
For fully remote or hybrid working models, the connections employees make with each other outside of a formal meeting is imperative. It’s important for people to foster friendships at work. At MURAL, we use our own platform to create spaces for people to gather and connect. For example, our content team created a virtual water cooler, which provided a fun place for employees to meetup and chat with whomever is there. This water cooler offers a way for the team to get to know each other “outside” of their job. We also plan immersive virtual events, birthday celebrations, and happy hours.
MURAL regularly organizes incredible company-wide virtual retreats and events. Using our own platform, Laïla von Alvensleben, our head of culture and collaboration, has pushed the boundaries of online events by executing a 3-day virtual retreat for MURAListas spread across global time zones from the Philippines to California. These one-of-a-kind events successfully introduce new (remote) team members to one another, bring us closer together, and inspire our imaginations on what is possible with digital platforms like Zoom and MURAL.
My immediate team hosted an online event where we made four different types of warm drinks, coffee, tea, and cocoa from different parts of the world. A physical package was sent to everyone ahead of time and the event was facilitated by an outside firm, so we could all enjoy the fun.
MURAL’s founders have a long history in gaming and sports so play and fun are ingrained in our culture. We are always playing games at MURAL, using pre-built templates for things like trivia, name that sound, or two truths and a lie. To get started, you can access hundreds of MURAL’s templates for free here. On the talent team, the most popular games are trivia and word scramblers.
At MURAL, we have a ritual of starting meetings with a fun icebreaker as a way to get participants to loosen up and engage.
For example, we have played games such as Scattergories, Scrabble, and This or That to get to know teammates better. A fun one was to have everyone draw a stick figure of themselves in MURAL and we had a measuring stick to show how tall everyone was. Since we have never met in person, it was fun to see who was tall vs short. For the most part, we like to get to know each other by asking everyone to add an image of their favorite food or movie or place to visit. Then we go around the “Zoom room” to give everyone the floor to discuss their image.
MURAL - It’s the most important platform we use to have fun at work with teammates.
I read books or listen to podcasts about leadership and fast growing companies and follow the latest trends regarding leadership. One of my favorite podcasts is WorkLife with Adam Grant. I enjoy reading all of his books that are focused on work life.
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