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Megan Barbier Of Wrike Reveals Her Top HR Strategies with Kage Spatz

HR Strategy Series, Real Human Resources

Wrike Human Resources Hiring Strategies

Focus on the future. If you are hiring for the skills you need today, you are already behind. Know your long term vision and objectives and ensure leadership is aligned. Building for the future starts today.

As a part of my HR Strategy Series, I’m talking to top experts in the field to teach prospects what hiring managers are actually looking for, while also supporting business leaders in their hiring and retention strategies. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Megan Barbier.

Megan Barbier is Vice President of People Operations at Wrike. She is an enthusiastic Human Resources professional with over 20 years of experience leading HR in large, small, and emerging organizations. She is passionate about creating positive workplace experiences for employees and leveraging the power of people to achieve strategic goals. Megan holds a BS in Commerce from Santa Clara University and an MBA from Loyola Marymount University.


Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My family runs a small business, so I grew up around employee dynamics and human resources functions — administration, recruiting, engagement, training, etc. I’ve always loved the human aspect of work. Everything we achieve happens through people. I am equally motivated by the impact I can have on individual employees and the collective culture of an organization, and how these elements intersect in the field of HR.

Can you share the most interesting or funny story that happened to you since you started this career?

Earlier in my career, I caught a director-level employee stealing office supplies and toilet paper. Yes, he was loading giant industrial rolls of toilet paper into his trunk in the early hours of the morning. When I confronted him, he said it was for his side business that he and his wife needed to make ends meet. Not ethical, but a difficult position to be in. I learned: Side hustles are more common than I had realized and people can always surprise you. Also, don’t assume you know everything about someone or their situation.

Are you working on any exciting new projects at your company? How is this helping people?

We just kicked off our summer intern program — Wrike Rockets. It’s so energizing to see the potential and excitement of our new team members — and the enthusiasm of the first-time managers who are leading others! It’s professional growth on multiple fronts.

We have been focused on rolling out enhancements to our global learning structure, which delivers training on leadership competencies and expectations, as well as robust skill programs for our junior level team members. We’re already seeing the benefits it’s creating around supporting a cohesive, shared experience for geographically dispersed teams.

An area I’m particularly passionate about are our resource communities, which celebrate and embrace employees and allies of different demographic groups. At Wrike, we have very active Women of Wrike and Out Wrikers Network groups that encourage growth and professional development for our female colleagues and members of our LGBTQIworkforce. We are in the process of launching a new Parents of Wrike group, aimed at supporting our team members who balance family and work to be their best on both fronts. What’s really exciting is that we have begun partnering with other companies in our area to hold joint resource community events to leverage networking, mentorship, and connectivity that goes beyond our company.

That’s fantastic. Let’s jump to the main focus of our series. Can you share 5 techniques that you use to identify the talent that would be best suited for the job you want to fill?

1) Replicate your success. Referral programs are a terrific way to leverage the recruiting power of your entire workforce (not just your talent acquisition team). This also reinforces the qualities, competencies, and cultural values present in your current workforce. Employees have a vested interest in the engagement and retention of their referred hires. An added bonus: gamification of referrals creates a layer of competitive fun!

2) Re-engage talent. We spend time re-engaging former employees through our Boomerang program. People leave companies for various reasons. In our phase of hyper-growth, the landscape can change quickly. It’s a great opportunity to recapture knowledge capital and culture builders who have left the org. Currently, “boomerangs” make up 5 percent of our workforce and these individuals are exceptional ambassadors of our culture.

3) Focus on the future. If you are hiring for the skills you need today, you are already behind. Know your long term vision and objectives and ensure leadership is aligned. Building for the future starts today.

4) Talent Map. The knowledge that comes from understanding your team’s competencies and skills and the gaps that exist is key to knowing how to prioritize what you will seek and value in the talent acquisition process.

5) Understand success drivers. There will be people in your organization who will thrive, and those who will merely survive. Understanding the difference between these two groups is essential in hiring for culture and excellent performance. Who are the consistent performers and culture-carriers in your org and which attributes do they possess? Are they goal-oriented, collaborative, action-biased, competitive, stress-tolerant, respectful of power structures, or comfortable navigating gray areas?

Evaluate your under-performers with the same lens. Dig into exit interviews, feedback documents, and performance reviews for clues. Then, use this info to build target competencies for recruiting. Knowing the qualities that are present in your most successful employees will enable you to screen for these points in your recruiting process and/or establish ways to cultivate these competencies in-house to drive high-performing teams. Your goal is to move every member of your workforce into “thrive” mode.

Valuable tips! With so much noise and competition out there, what are your top ways to attract and engage the best talent in an industry right now?

  1. Make it FUN! Adding new team members and expanding the culture is one of the most rewarding and exciting aspects of being part of a growing organization. Think beyond your recruiters to your external staffing vendors, your employees, your customers, Gamification, competitions, and challenges are good practices to up the collective energy of your team in growing your employee population. We run a quarterly contest where employees can win prizes, special edition swag or travel credits for resume submissions.
  2. Leverage ambassadors. Engaged employees who embody elements of your culture will be powerful allies in the war for talent. Mobilize your cultural touchstones by creating opportunities for them to share their passion for your company. Provide resources for them to easily share content and experiences on social media. Develop panel opportunities or seek out speaking engagements for them to represent the company. Their enthusiasm will be contagious.
  3. Be creative. Know your factors for success and figure out where those exist in the larger population. Think beyond your typical talent sources. Consider candidates on-ramping after a maternity leave or care for a family member. Retirees and veterans are great sources of talent. Have you explored second-chance employment candidates (returning to the workforce after prison term) or work programs for incarcerated talent? What about accessing candidates from underserved rural areas or school programs for under-represented students? This is another great way to encourage diversity in your talent base. If you are hung up on the traditional career path and standard resume, you are fishing in the same pool as your competition — and missing out on great potential!

What are the 3 most effective strategies used to retain employees?

  1. Remember the human side. At our core, we all want to be respected and feel a sense of belonging. Act from this perspective. We treat our people like people. The ripple effect of this commitment is evident when anyone — candidate, employee, customer, former employee — engages with us.
  2. Paint the picture. Be sure employees can envision their future with your company. Celebrate promotions and recognize professional achievements. Feature coworker career paths during team meetings or lunch-n-learn sessions. Communicate available career paths and support movement along these tracks with professional development opportunities. It’s important that employees see the “ladder” and have the tools they need to move around in the structure.
  3. Understand motivation. As leaders, we must understand employee motivation if we are to earn their engagement. What drives performance in your organization? What inspires individuals to act beyond their job description to contribute to company success? What do your team members value? Are rewards in line with what your employees value most?

All three can be so important. In your experience, is it also important for HR to keep up with the latest trends?

I think it is more important for HR to keep apprised of the latest trends to have an understanding of the larger talent landscape and then evaluate what may or may not work for their organization before jumping on the bandwagon. With the fast-pace of today’s workplace, we are faced with pressure to adapt and implement quickly, sometimes without the very necessary pause to consider whether the newest trend is right for us or our organization.

Can you give an example of a creative way to increase the value provided to employees without breaking the bank?

Establish a human connection. Employees are engaged when they feel connected to their work and their colleagues. Last year, we implemented Bonusly as our global recognition platform. It is one of our most successful programs to date, with a majority of employees participating by acknowledging and rewarding their coworkers across functions and geographical areas. It’s been a real boundary-breaker for our teams! I’ve also found that the power in the simple act of providing specific recognition for a job well-done is immeasurable. Mention someone by name. Write a note of thanks. These acts hold real weight. And they are free.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I believe the issue of sleep deprivation is very relevant to our society on a global scale. There are so many factors that are cutting into hours traditionally available for sleep. When we all commit to getting enough shut-eye, we are nicer, more focused, mentally present, and (usually) better drivers. Sleep is that precious time we need to recoup, recover, and to dream! Let’s make sleep a priority.

This is a great reminder for all of us. Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Can’t never did anything.”

My grandma’s quote. I love it because it’s true. You can’t accomplish much without a can-do mindset.

I grew up hearing this over and over. As a result, I rarely use “can’t” because my brain has been trained not to think that way.

Hear that everyone? You CAN! Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have a private lunch with, and why?

Nicolle Paradise: I’ve met her and she’s inspiring. She’s a busy lady, so assuming she’s not available…

Jocko Willink: I’m raising two warrior kids and would love to pick his brain.

Thank you for sharing so many valuable insights with us today!

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