Marta Kondryn about trends in recruiting, work culture, and why companies should grow entrepreneurs
Mindvalley is an online personal growth company, producing educational programs for self-development and transformation. The company is famous for its innovative approach to work culture and talent development that we, in A-Players Recruiting, share and admire.
That’s why we decided to invite Marta Kondryn, Head of People and Culture at Mindvalley, to A-Players Online Talks with Impactful Leaders where we discussed principles of talent management at the company. Things we learned are so progressive and insightful that we would like to share our findings with you.
About career path
Before joining Mindvalley, Marta had spent a lot of time in the international student organization AIESEC. She worked there first, and upon graduation from university she joined the AIESEC exchange program in Hong Kong for six months, working as a trainer.
“It was an amazing opportunity for me to learn how different their education system is, their lifestyle. It was my dream to work in Asia since I love this region and always wanted to visit it.”
Marta returned to Kyiv after Hong Kong. She was mostly working in recruiting, supporting companies with project management and HR management.
“It was my entrepreneurial two-years-long journey. It was interesting but felt a bit lonely to work for myself and by myself. Especially after AIESEC provided me with a global perspective, feeling of having the right people working alongside and creating magical things. This part was really missing from my business.”
It led Marta to become a part of Mindvalley, which greatly reminds her of AIESEC — a community of fast learners, kind, smart people, who work and create together, empowered and self-driven.
About qualities to look for in employees
Mindvalley is a unique company with a multinational work environment.
“We employ people of at least 59 nationalities. So to work with us a person should be able to operate in a diverse environment, communicate and cooperate with people from different cultures, backgrounds, different styles of working.”
Since the company plans to go fully remote in three years, it selects candidates based on their ability to cooperate virtually and get along with people with different backgrounds.
In addition to skills and seniority, Mindvalley looks for self-sufficiency, ability to work without strict oversight, and balance ambitions and freedom in a productive way.
Despite large scales of operation and growth, Mindvalley has preserved a spirit of a startup and hence needs people who are flexible and proactive.
“We’re looking for someone who can work easily within uncertainty, who can make a good judgment call themselves without someone to show them the perfect way. The COVID-19 situation changed and pushed us to lead in the uncertainty. And we need people who know how to navigate it.”
About how to define the right people
Marta believes that finding the right people for the team starts with the company’s communication. The clearer you are with your values and culture principles, the easier it is to find people who resonate with them.
Another important step is including team members into the interview process with a candidate.
“We engage up to eight team members on different interview stages so they can evaluate a candidate as well. We have a lot of filters and our hiring process may look long. But we want the candidate to spend as much time with the right stakeholders as possible, and we want all of them to be on the same page before hiring anyone.”
Marta also appreciates when Mindvalley customers apply to work for the company as she did. “When I was applying for Mindvalley, of course, I watched all its videos, and when I came to the office I couldn’t believe this was real.”
About Mindvalley’s culture
In June, Mindvalley’s founder, Vishen Lakhiani, published a book The Buddha and the Badass that landed at the top of The New York Times bestseller list. It’s dedicated to the way people work nowadays, ideas about the work culture of the future, and some of the practices Mindvalley implements today.
“What resonates with me the most, are our three core values: transformation, unity, envisioning. These are things that we want our customers to experience as well as our employees. It’s the promise that we give an employee who is joining the team: you will be transformed. The area of transformation is different for different people: beliefs, emotional life, physical health, diet, habits. We have numerous transformational stories of our employees.”
The whole transformation process starts after the first week of a person in the company. Part of the introduction and onboarding is to define the employee’s goals beyond work. Newcomers do an exercise called the Three most important questions where they have to write down goals in different areas of their lives: experience, growth, contribution.
“It’s’ amazing to see how with time people achieve these goals. For me, for example, the dream I never thought would come true was to speak at TEDx. I’m a big fan of them, I watched and grew up on their speeches. I always dreamt to speak on a stage one day. And it happened last year.
So one of the goals for us is to push employees to become the best versions of themselves.”
Some of the responsibility for making this happen falls on managers. One of their KPIs is a certain number of one-on-ones with employees where they discuss work and personal goals. 60% of those meetings are work-related and 40% are personal.
Unlike many other companies, Mindvalley highly supports and encourages people to be more entrepreneurial. Many of the employees have their own projects they work on, and the management even encourages it. That’s why most people leaving the company do it to start their own.
“After experiencing such attitude, I don’t think I will be able to come back to a corporate environment where entrepreneurial ambitions aren’t appreciated.”
About entrepreneurial ambitions among employees
Marta believes that companies should stop establishing restrictions for what people should and shouldn’t do, and finally realize that talented people usually have ambitions beyond their day-job.
Such an attitude was shaped after visiting a global HR conference where she learned that in less than ten years the job market is projected to be more freelance than full-time employees. And, while most companies are thinking about additional perks to keep the employees loyal, Marta thinks that the right way to go is to provide them with parallel opportunities.
“I am a strong supporter of having parallel careers if our employees are delivering good results, achieving their goals, and are responsible. If they have a passion project, why would we restrict it? We value long-term employment, but if people aren’t fulfilled anymore and stay in the company for different reasons, we would rather let them go explore something else.”
Mindvalley not only encourages employees to pursue their passions but supports their own projects. A good example of this is LottieFiles — a graphic animation online service founded by two former employees and invested in by Mindvalley.
To make sure that such freedom is not disruptive to business, Mindvalley has an OKR system of evaluation and constant feedback.
To HR managers, who would like to follow this approach but have to persuade the management to adopt it, Marta recommends demonstrating global best practices.
“Start a conversation with a CEO. Usually, it brings the rest of the team onboard. Show them what’s happening in the world. We already see the shortage of talent, there are already more jobs than talented people to do them. If your company isn’t flexible, it will be harder to hire top-performers.”
About how to find the right people
According to Marta, the most effective approach is to have a strong presence and relationships in the communities and organizations where candidates with a right mind-set operate and network. Approximately 90% of her team are people with whom she used to work at some point in her life.
Keeping and investing in relationships allows Marta to surround herself with people with the same values, work attitude, and who are ready to create the next big thing.
About leadership in engineering teams
To solve challenges with leadership among engineers, Marta resorts to the top management to inspire the employees.
“Not all engineers want to be leaders, many of them actually don’t. So if you have an engineer who wants it, it becomes your primary goal to help them and make it happen. Engineers are the type of people who want to develop their craft more than anything, and constantly learn new things. Our CEO is also a developer in the past. And he still likes to work with the tech team directly, develop the products, fix things or check on the platforms. For the team, it’s a very inspirational move because they get to work directly with the visioner.”
Another way to nourish natural leaders among engineers is to boost their innovation streak. For this purpose, the company regularly organizes hackathons where engineers can work on the problems of their own choice or corporate needs.
About challenges and insights of remote work
For the past three months Mindvalley was in a lockdown and, like most businesses, worked remotely. Now the company allows people to gradually come back to the office, but many opt not to. So they are allowed to work from wherever they want. Preserving the corporate culture in a virtual environment was a new challenge for the HR team.
“The biggest issue for us is that our office is designed for physical interaction. It’s a spacious, beautiful, very collaborative environment. You have to be in the office to feel our culture. The challenge was to recreate it without having the actual environment.”
Before the lockdown, every team in the company had a budget to use for bonding. Teammates would go somewhere and have dinner or travel outside. After switching to remote work, Mindvalley relocated the budget to get home equipment for employees, something they could use to improve their work environment.
Would you like to become a part of a global company and make a difference in the world?