Why my corporate sites don’t show “the team”

I'm ok agreeing to disagree…

I want to share with you why my corporate sites – I'm talking about any company where I'm one of the execs – won't ever show a “the team” page. It's not because I don't want to share the spotlight.

I'll tell you a story about my experiences and see if you agree.

But first…

I met Peter several months ago. He struck me as a very smart guy doing some amazing things at his company. So I want to start by saying that very smart people disagree with me and my take on this post.

I also want to say that his new site looks amazing – which is why I was there checking it out. And only when I saw the team page did I decide that I've talked about it enough but never written about it.

And that now was the time.

Have you seen (or created) a team page like this?

I don't know if you've done it before, but if you haven't, there's a chance that someday you will. Because they look amazing. They allow you to boast about the size and quality of your team. They let you share the spotlight and point to all the rest of the amazing people you work with. And they give you an opportunity to have a fun photo day at the office.

EliteTeamBut I don't think you should do it. And here's my story for why I come to that opinion.

I started my career at Berkeley Lab…

Right after graduating from Berkeley, I went to work at the government lab where they were inventing the internet. No joke. And in 1994 I was working with people who were doing amazing things with “the internet superhighway.” One of the many things teams were doing was developing video tools. Because in those days, video streaming was a dream.

We had teams doing tons of different kind of research – because that was the whole reason for the lab's existence. To do DOE, NSF and other funded research.

We were also one of the first organizations to have public org charts published on our public-facing lbl.gov website.

Our computer science division was incredible and did collaborative work with tons of companies with names you know – Apple, Cisco, etc.

One day in the middle of Spring….

One day, in the middle of Spring, a company came to Berkeley and rented out a floor of hotel rooms at the nicest hotel in the Berkeley Marina.

And they brought with them the entire recruiting team (along with hiring managers). And for a whole week, all they did was interview people.

People whose names and roles they learned from our public org charts.

And we didn't see one or two people leave. We saw teams leave. Whole teams.

This didn't just happen to one division at the lab. There wasn't just one company that came hiring at Berkeley Lab.

Several companies used this strategy and several teams went – 100% of the team – to well-known companies.

Let me ask you this…

Are you training and molding your staff? I'm not talking about the execs on your team. I assume they won't get ripped out of your company.

I'm talking about your staff that are the up and comers who have already shown talent and who you're grooming.

Sure, it's your job to keep them. Sure, it's your job to challenge them. Sure, it's your job to help them feel like “part of the family.”

But why make your job harder than it is already.

Let's get specific…

The people who are senior in your organization are likely to be paid well and happy.

The people who are junior and just learning, they're likely to be less interesting to a recruiter or company.

It's the folks in the middle that matter. The ones you've already figured out are pretty good. You've already given them positions that speak to that talent and potential.

AssociateCreativeDirector

I don't know Mike. I don't really know anyone in this company. And like I said, they're smart and doing great stuff. So this won't likely happen to them. But it could happen to you.

Look at this guy Mike. He's an “associate creative director.”

If I had to guess that means he's awesome, up-and-coming, and in time will step into a full Creative Director role. But he can't do that while the Creative Director (a guy that I think is named Zach from the photo above) is still there.

See where I'm going. Mike will continue to develop, but there's a chance that at some point he'll be ready to step up, and the role will be taken for a bit longer before he can step into it. And in that moment, Mike is ready, perfectly ready, to get an invitation to lunch from a poacher or recruiter.

Because they can jump in (with a script) and promise new opportunities and challenges that he doesn't yet have at his job.

I know all this not because I've done it, but because I've had it done to me. More than once. Without a public page like this making it even easier.

Our job is hard enough…

I've lost great and amazing up and comers to Microsoft, to Apple, and even to Dow.

We will all lose people. Great people. Simply because someone else has a great offer, a new and challenging position, or better perks.

I get that. Seriously.

But given how hard it is to develop talent, given how hard it is to create culture among teams, given how hard it is to create opportunities for people when the company is at certain sizes – given all of that, isn't our job hard enough to not add to it by inviting recruiters to make it harder?

And that's why you won't see any company, where I'm an exec, a page like this. Because I'll find other ways to share the spotlight. I'll find other ways to have fun photo days at work. I'll find other ways to brag on my staff.

All without inviting recruiters to test my ability to keep them around.

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Chris Lema
Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.