Miles HR speaks with Christopher Yeh, Senior Manager of Talent Acceleration at Clio.
Clio Software was launched 10 years ago in Vancouver, British Columbia with the aim of transforming the practice of law for good by delivering cloud-based practice management technologies for lawyers around the world.
Clio has continued to grow over those 10 years and now has over 200 employees in offices worldwide including Toronto, Dublin and the newly opened Calgary office.
Christopher Yeh has been involved in the Clio journey since 2014 and has been working on and overseen development during their rapid growth during that time.
What do you believe are some of the challenges unique to Talent Development and HR within Tech?
I think tech is both an exciting and challenging space for Talent Development and HR. It’s exciting because Tech is an industry that eschews doing things just for the sake of doing them and loves to disrupt how something ought to work.
The output of this is a raised bar for what HR means – Google is a great example where they popularized the concept of ‘People Operations’ and its utilization of applied social sciences.
The ask of HR teams within fast-growing technology organizations is quite big – in fact, you will find very few technology organizations viewing their ‘HR’ teams simply as HR.
We are now living in a world where teams focused on People and Culture are the norm and our work in this space applies far beyond the tactical parts of an employee’s journey with the company. While it is incredibly exciting time to work in the space of People and Culture, it also means that a big challenge is being able to meet the dynamic needs of fast-changing workforces.
Within Talent Development in particular, I would say our challenge is being able to answer the question of: “are we delivering the right learning experience at the right pace, in the right time, and in the right way”.
Companies our size change and grow so quickly; as a result, we need to be able to adapt and upskill our leaders with practices and tools that are both immediately applicable and do not take up significant chunks of time.
This translates to us prototyping and launching highly customized programming at both small and large scales across the entire company in order to add the most value to our internal customers.
Clio has grown and continues to grow at an extraordinary rate. What are some of the key structures within your HR that have ensured successful talent development and retention during this period?
We have done many things over the course of the last 5 years to ensure that we scaled the company effectively. I would say the three that stand out to me the most were: establishing our mission and values, developing our employee journey, and launching our foundational leadership program.
Developing our mission and values were important in scaling our people practices as they became anchoring points for what we stood for as Clio.
Our values operated as guiding principles for the formation of our people philosophies around every part of Clio’s employee journey. This enabled us to design the processes across the entire employee journey – processes that would break quickly as we scaled, but were easily adapted as our core philosophies around things like compensation and performance do not fundamentally change.
Our foundational leadership program, Basecamp, is also a key structure that allows us to scale effectively. We believe that leadership is not relegated just to people managers – rather, all Clions are expected to be leaders.
What we needed to do in order to support this philosophy was provide the necessary tools and education on how to discover, exercise, and hold responsibility for one’s personal leadership. With Basecamp, we level up Clions on our four fundamental leadership skill: Feedback, Accountability, Coaching & Communication (FACC).
How has Clio ensured it attracts the top talent in Vancouver’s tech industry?
We believe great people want to work around great people. To that end, our ability to attract top talent comes from having hired some amazing senior leaders from world renowned organizations, including Salesforce, Amazon, Shopify, Google, and more, as well as investing a lot in the deliberate development of Clions.
In addition, we have the benefit of working in a very exciting growth industry where we have tremendous impact. Law is an industry that nearly everyone interacts with either directly or indirectly. Our product literally saves lives by supporting lawyers who work to provide justice for those most in need.
The other big part of what enables us to attract top talent is the culture we’ve shaped over the years. We’ve intentionally focused on building an organization where people can do the best work of their lives – something we call a human and high performing organization.
What are some of the keys to developing a strong company culture?
I think the ingredients of a strong company culture apply in all organizations, not just in the tech industry. A strong company culture develops when:
- The company is able to identify what it stands for
- Leadership actively walks the talk of what the company stands for
- You hire diverse people who add onto the culture, not simply fit into it
What three tips would you give to growing tech companies for retaining talent?
- Invest early in a great hiring process so that you bring in great people who add onto your culture
- Develop and articulate a really clear ‘why’ for everything so that you are not introducing unnecessary process
- Avoid the false dichotomy – aim to build a human and high performing organization so that you build a company where people do great work and have fun doing it.
On behalf of Miles HR, we’d like to thank Christopher Yeh and Clio for sharing great insight!