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Company Culture and Remote Work With Brett Putter

The Problem with HR

Release Date: 05/19/2021

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Brett Putter is an expert on company culture development. He is the founder and CEO of CultureGene, a culture leadership software and consultancy services platform helping companies build strong, functional cultures while transitioning to a remote or hybrid work model. Brett has written two books on the subject of company culture - Culture Decks Decoded was published in 2018, and Own Your Culture: How to Define, Embed and Manage your Company Culture was published in September 2020. He writes a popular blog on culture-driven companies and is a sought-after speaker.  

Who is Brett Putter? (01:04)

  • Brett says that he is originally South African but emigrated to the UK 20 years ago.
  • A couple of months ago, he decided to move to Portugal.
  • Before starting CultureGene, he ran an executive search firm for 16.
  • His work was all about people, HR and working out the human element of being human.

For how long has Brett been involved in company culture? (01:50)

  • Five years ago, he worked with three companies where he was asked to find them senior-level executives. He mentions that these three companies all had a clear understanding of their culture.
  • He was asked to find candidates with the right skills and experience to fit the job description and then match them to match them with the company’s values.
  • Brett says that these searches were a lot harder to do than usual, but after he saw the impact the candidates had on the company and the business’s success, he realised that there was something there. 
  • Since then, he’s been focused on helping companies define their culture and embed it in their employees.

Describe the moment you decided to make the shift from executive search to company culture (06:10)

  •  Brett says after working with the three companies, he started telling other clients that he will help them define their values and then help them find candidates who match those values as part of the search.
  • He would then go ahead and help them define their company values, but they didn’t really know what to do with the values once they were defined.
  • He realised that he enjoyed the searches less and that building and defining the culture interested him more.
  • One of the things he enjoyed about the culture was that he could immediately see the impact he made on the organisation, and when he realised that, he decided to make it his primary focus.

What other problems has Brett identified in HR or related to HR?

  • Brett feels that HR has always been deemed as an annoying function, but the pandemic has in some cases where they had a role to play in helping manage employees through the pandemic,
  • He says HR professionals now have to step up and be at the table and make themselves valuable.
  • Another problem is that HR professionals are not doing enough to understand how remote companies operate.
  • He doesn’t think that we are going back to the way things were, and many companies will transition to a hybrid work environment. To do so successfully, HR professionals will have to know the best practices for remote work. 
  • Brett says HR’s role in remote work is not only about ensuring employees have the right internet and the right chair but also about understanding the Zoom spiral of doom where systems are not designed for remote work. Employees spend too much time on Zoom, communication is too synchronous, and systems are not designed for effective remote work.
  • He describes the Zoom spiral of Doom as being on Zoom a lot because people can’t read what they need to read about you, your processes and your documents. Because you spend so much time on Zoom means you don’t have time to do work during the day and start working at night, which will lead to exhaustion, you don’t connect socially anymore, which forces you to be on Zoom more, and you end up being lonely and depressed.  

How does Brett contribute towards solving the problem of HR professionals not doing enough to understand how remote companies operate? (17:58)

  • Brett says because he develops software for distributed teams to help with their culture development process, he decided to study remote working companies. 
  • He discovered that remote companies over-index in 9 key areas, define even the smallest processes, and document them. 
  • He says social connection and the elements around well-being are important and remote companies train managers to encourage environments of transparency and psychological safety. 
  • Remote companies focus heavily on recruiting and onboarding because they don’t have face-to-face where you can trust your gut. 
  • He went on to build the nine best practices remote companies focus on into his culture development process.

Brett’s book recommendation:

Own Your Culture by Brett Putter

An everyone culture by Robert Kegan, Lisa Lahey and Matthew Miller

Connect with Brett on: 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brettonputter/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BrettonPutter

Email: [email protected]

CultureGene’s Website: http://www.culturegene.ai/