How We Built A Development Culture That Works

Tyler Parson
October 13, 2022
min to read

How We Built A Development Culture That Works

Tyler Parson
October 13, 2022
min to read

The needs of customers are not static. 

Companies are not static. 

It’s a saga seen often.

But at Chili Piper, we’ve taken action to not be Company A. Here’s what we do:

1. See our people as more than their job title

We don’t hire SDRs, CSMs, engineers, marketers, or product managers; we hire humans who perform the duties of an SDR, CSM, engineer, marketer, or product manager. 

The distinction may seem trivial, even nitpicky, but employees can and do feel the difference. 

How is this done practically? Firstly, refer to your talent as members of their functional team, not their job title. 

For example: “Abdul is on the SDR team” instead of “Abdul is an SDR.” 

Secondly, empower your people to take on projects beyond their core duties and offer strategic input on topics “outside their day job.” Not only will you expose them to different skills, but your company might also get a brilliant idea from a surprising perspective. 

2. Actively break down barriers between departments 

Lazlo Block, the Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google, said it best: “If you give people freedom, they will amaze you.” At Chili Piper, we do this with detailed skill frameworks and role progressions that are fully-visible company-wide

In practice, this means that a member of the SDR team can go into ProgressionApp (our development framework software of choice) and see the required skills for their role and every other role in the organization, including executive ones. Better yet, they can actively compare their skills to any role they choose, and the app will tell them where to focus their growth next.

This visibility means that employees don’t have to wonder: “Would I be any good at that?” “What skills are actually needed in that role?”  “How can I get there?” “What is the work required of that team?”

When you give your employees the freedom to explore other roles and choose their path forward, you’re enabling them to grow and succeed. 

Meaning that you also continue to grow and succeed. 

3. Support employees with resources for their development, not the company’s 

Once an employee has identified how they want to grow, we support them with a private Talent Development Coach whose sole purpose is to empower the employee to grow in the areas that they’ve decided. 

Not only are our TDCs accredited coaches, they are full-time Chili Piper employees. Development is never more than a Slack message away and each Piper’s coach has first-hand knowledge of the systems and relationships they are navigating. 

We also equip each Piper with a $2,000 annual development stipend to use towards skill growth of their choosing because… why not? Funds have been used towards MBAs, Audible subscriptions, English classes, and tickets to conferences around the world.

Ultimately, people make companies. More importantly, successful people make successful companies. Organizations that make it their responsibility to create the former will very quickly become the latter.

The needs of customers are not static. 

Companies are not static. 

It’s a saga seen often.

But at Chili Piper, we’ve taken action to not be Company A. Here’s what we do:

1. See our people as more than their job title

We don’t hire SDRs, CSMs, engineers, marketers, or product managers; we hire humans who perform the duties of an SDR, CSM, engineer, marketer, or product manager. 

The distinction may seem trivial, even nitpicky, but employees can and do feel the difference. 

How is this done practically? Firstly, refer to your talent as members of their functional team, not their job title. 

For example: “Abdul is on the SDR team” instead of “Abdul is an SDR.” 

Secondly, empower your people to take on projects beyond their core duties and offer strategic input on topics “outside their day job.” Not only will you expose them to different skills, but your company might also get a brilliant idea from a surprising perspective. 

2. Actively break down barriers between departments 

Lazlo Block, the Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google, said it best: “If you give people freedom, they will amaze you.” At Chili Piper, we do this with detailed skill frameworks and role progressions that are fully-visible company-wide

In practice, this means that a member of the SDR team can go into ProgressionApp (our development framework software of choice) and see the required skills for their role and every other role in the organization, including executive ones. Better yet, they can actively compare their skills to any role they choose, and the app will tell them where to focus their growth next.

This visibility means that employees don’t have to wonder: “Would I be any good at that?” “What skills are actually needed in that role?”  “How can I get there?” “What is the work required of that team?”

When you give your employees the freedom to explore other roles and choose their path forward, you’re enabling them to grow and succeed. 

Meaning that you also continue to grow and succeed. 

3. Support employees with resources for their development, not the company’s 

Once an employee has identified how they want to grow, we support them with a private Talent Development Coach whose sole purpose is to empower the employee to grow in the areas that they’ve decided. 

Not only are our TDCs accredited coaches, they are full-time Chili Piper employees. Development is never more than a Slack message away and each Piper’s coach has first-hand knowledge of the systems and relationships they are navigating. 

We also equip each Piper with a $2,000 annual development stipend to use towards skill growth of their choosing because… why not? Funds have been used towards MBAs, Audible subscriptions, English classes, and tickets to conferences around the world.

Ultimately, people make companies. More importantly, successful people make successful companies. Organizations that make it their responsibility to create the former will very quickly become the latter.

Tyler Parson

Tyler Parson is the Vice President of People at Chili Piper. She is passionate about building a company that empowers its people to show up authentically, do the best work of their lives, and learn from one another. Outside of work, you’ll either find her traveling, reading, or putting together one of her 125+ LEGO sets (seriously). Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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