How We Hire: The Impact of Grovo's Explicit Culture
If you take a look at Grovo’s careers page, you’ll see in big, bold letters: “As anyone who steps foot in our office will tell you, our enthusiasm for our customers and for each other is genuine, infectious, and lasts all day.” Dig a little deeper, and you’ll see that Grovo’s people-centric culture is at the core of each and every job description. The list of preferred qualifications under “personal” and “who you are” sections often outnumber technical or professional experience. It’s immediately clear that the team is looking for the right person, and has put a lot of thought into what that means.
Defining Culture Early
Before Grovo was a company, before there was an office filled with Apple equipment, standing desks, and personal trainers, its founders Jeff Fernandez, Nick Narodny and Surag Mungekar were working out of an apartment building. Even then, the Grovo team knew that the only thing that would set it apart would be its people and culture.
The founders agreed to prioritize making Grovo a place where great people wanted to work. So they put together a Standard of Performance that defines the values that they wanted to maintain at the company. Some of the most important pieces include: be fair, show character, be deeply committed to learning and teaching, respect each person and what he/she does for the company.
The company is now in high-growth mode, hiring roughly 100 people since June of last year. But despite the need to fill such a high number of positions, culture fit is never compromised. “Because the core values were articulated from the very beginning, we’ve been able to preserve them,” says Grovo Talent Coordinator Kaela Diomede.
The Interview Process
Grovo’s talent team prides itself on the level of transparency it provides throughout the interview process. In particular, they ensure that that the interview process is a two-way street. During interviews, the recruiting team asks questions to get a sense of the candidates as humans - asking about interests, extracurricular interests, and personal goals. They can assess what this person values, if she is a team player, or if she prefers a collaborative work environment. “At Grovo, if somebody is not hitting his or her numbers, the whole team is invested in helping out,” says Caroline Jenkins, Talent Manager at Grovo.
They also make sure the candidate has plenty of insight into what it’s like to work at Grovo and what the job will entail. “Something we always do is ask candidates what they are looking for in their next position; this lets us know if what they want aligns with what we’re offering. We also share pros and cons - we never hide who we are. It gives candidates a chance to vet us,” she says.
In addition, they make sure that candidates have visibility into Grovo’s culture by providing office tours that include introductions to various team members. The recruiting team also knows that an interview setting isn’t the most comfortable environment, so they usually invite late-stage candidates to spend time with the team outside of the office, such as a happy hour. Kaela says,
The Role of Leadership
Even at 140 employees, Jeff Fernandez, the CEO of Grovo, participates in the interview process as much as possible (the team estimates 70% of final-round interviews). When a candidate reaches this stage, competency is assumed. Jeff screens for the core culture values, acting as the ultimate gatekeeper to the company.
His proactive role in recruiting has also helped build a recruiting culture. Everyone he has hired is welcoming, so they get to know candidates. Furthermore, because people are explicitly aware of the culture values and their importance, they can help refer people who are the right fit. As a result, employee referrals are a big source of new hires at Grovo.
Jeff also spends time with new hires, doing a “culture chat” during employee onboarding. This chat shares what Grovo stands for, its mission, and also provides the opportunity for candidates to ask any question that he promises to answer candidly.
Fostering the Culture
Grovo has 2-week onboarding sessions in which all new employees meet with the leaders of every team and function within the company. Team leaders run through what a typical day looks like, how that team works cross-functionally, and its impact on the organization. At the end of the 2-week of onboarding, Jeff, the CEO, hosts his culture chat for all new employees.
New hires also receive a crate of a “standards of performance booklet” as well as player cards of each employee.
Transparency remains a large part of the employee experience at Grovo. “We pride ourselves in the level of directness and transparency that we provide all of our employees. When we have questions, concerns, issues - we take a very direct and respectful approach,” says Kaela. Employees have weekly 1:1s with our managers and office hours where they can ask about different functions of the organization. Additionally, they have monthly and quarterly all-hands meetings in which the CEO runs through the slide deck that is used for the board meetings. “We do this to teach the company why certain things are done certain ways or why changes were made, so that we have a more thoughtful approach in our day-to-day decisions. It’s very much a learning exercise for all of us.”
The company also works to celebrate wins for all teams. “The sales organization has a gong that we have had since the sales team started. The lead gen rep and the Account Executive who sourced and closed the deal go up to the gong. The lead gen throws the mallet to the AE who then hits the gong,” Kaela says. They also send company-wide emails whenever there are major wins for any team in the company, and are continuing to develop unique ways to celebrate those on a grander scale.
Finally, Grovo truly believes that growing a strong culture is just as important as growing its bottom line. That's why it is widely recognized as one of the best places to work in NYC!
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“We invite candidates to happy hours and events so we can get to know them outside of the interview setting, where sometimes people don’t feel super comfortable. One of our core values, playfulness, can manifest itself in a variety of ways. It doesn’t mean you want to party; it means you want to get to know and interact with people. We make sure that they have opportunities to show who they are in a variety of settings, not just interviews.” - Kaela Diomede