Kinney Group Core Values: What It Means to Be Customer Centric

Part of the reason I was excited to join Kinney Group was the company culture. In particular, I most related to our Customer Centric core value.

For over half of my life, and starting at age 14, I’ve worked in restaurants. So for me, providing great guest service is in my blood. That’s not to say that it’s “easy” by any means, but that the gratification of having a direct impact on a guest’s experience and seeing their delight is a huge motivator.

As I grew and evolved into different roles within the industry, I began to interview candidates to add to my team. No matter what role I was interviewing for, I always started by asking the same question: What does great customer service mean to you?

The answer to that question can really tell you a lot about a candidate—and for as many quality answers as there are, there’s an equal number of crazy, off-the-wall answers. (Trust me!)

Over time, I’ve crafted my own answer to “What does great customer service mean to me?” Simply put, it’s getting customers what they want, when they want it, in a polite manner.

Being Customer Centric is about providing quality customer service at every point of the sales and service process. This is in our blood as Choppers at Kinney Group.

Getting customers what they want…

I can recall times in my career when guests know exactly what they want, and it’s up to me and my team to execute and provide. But it’s also a really exciting opportunity for me when I can help a guest figure out what they want. Maybe they’re open to trying something new? Maybe another product or service would better meet their needs? It’s an opportunity to showcase knowledge and expertise, and when you do that—you build trust.

We’re all customers at one point or another. And I know that for myself, it’s way easier to do business with someone that I trust. Trust means that I feel that a service provider has my best interest in mind.

…when they want it…

In business, timing is everything. Great customer service providers will understand when a customer wants a product or service delivered. Most of the time in my career, the timing is simply “now” or “as fast as you can,” but it’s important for the service provider to understand that. Have you ever dined out and received your entrée, and then your appetizer, and then your drink? Simply delivering the product or service is really only half of the experience. Building a great experience with a customer by understanding their timing—that builds trust.

…in a polite manner.

I can think of a number of people who are really good at what they do, but I will sometimes settle for less only because I don’t want to deal with them. Or maybe I reserve dealing with that person for certain issues. Being approachable and kind, combined with a can-do attitude, is the cherry on top of a great experience. One of my favorite quotes ever is from Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” In essence, don’t be a Richard!

Here at Kinney Group, we’re laser-focused on customer-centricity. Our team spends a great deal of time understanding the three returns on investment (mission, human and financial) for our customers. We want to understand what their end goal looks like for using our services, on a timetable that works for them. And finally, we have great people that do great work! It is very satisfying to see feedback come in from a customer explaining how much they enjoyed working with our engineers.

Join Our Team!

It’s very rewarding for me to work for a company that recognizes the true importance of building trust with customers by providing a quality experience. If you excel at delivering what customers want, when they want it, in a polite manner—consider joining our team! A position at Kinney Group is an investment in your career. See a list of our current openings and apply online.

Kinney Group Core Values: What Is a Chopper?

As part of the team who defined Kinney Group’s five core values back in 2016, I can still remember much of the conversation. We had borrowed a conference room in the basement of IUPUI and locked ourselves away with a bunch of data, word clouds, post-it pads, and a mission to finalize our core values. We knew how critical it was to get it right—if not, we could easily steer our colleagues wrong for years to come. After hours of deliberation, surveys, healthy debate, and gridlock over wordsmithing, I looked at my teammates in a moment of desperation and asked, “WWJKD?” What Would JK Do?

A Founding Vision

As a founder-led organization, much of our culture over time has been grounded in our founder, Jim Kinney (also known as JK). JK is a visionary and leads our team with confidence and passion for our mission. We took each word that we were unsure of and asked again, WWJKD? The five core themes were easy—all of our surveys identified resonant concepts. Finding the right words to convey the spirit of the company was the tricky part.

We came to the fifth value with our core four now in place: Customer-centric, Innovative, Competitive, and Bias to Action. We had a handful of phrases and ideas for the fifth: perseverance, removing barriers, never give up, determination. None of it was right. The concept was there, but it simply didn’t feel like Kinney Group.

Just then, my coworker stared into the corner and muttered, “What if we just call it Chopper?” After a couple of chuckles, someone else muttered, “No one will know what we’re talking about.” All other ideas left my brain.

This was it. That was the point. No one outside would know what it meant, but inside, we would know exactly what it meant to live out the legend of Chopper Man. In interviews, we’d get to answer the question, “What is a Chopper?” Someday, I’d write this blog post to answer our most important cultural question: what is a Chopper?

The Legend of Chopper Man

The history of Chopper at Kinney Group is folklore; we still tell the story at every Quarterly Business Review. In 2011, when the company comprised fewer than ten people, our founder had to make the tough choice that every founder has faced: push through or shut it down. No one knows what JK was searching for when he happened upon the Google image of a man chopping a pile of wood. Now, that image is an emblem of his choice to push through. He opted to remove the obstacles that plagued our organization and pursue his vision and our mission: harness the power of IT to improve lives.

A sepia photograph of a man chopping wood.
The image of Chopper Man that inspired JK in 2011

When things look bleak and another roadblock presents itself, we choose to Chop through. Can’t see the end in sight and lost in the middle of the forest? Start chopping.

When we answer the question for potential new colleagues, there is a gleam in the eye of future Choppers. They get it right away and then want to hear more. The question changes from “what is a Chopper?” to “how do I become a Chopper?”

What Makes a Chopper?

At Kinney Group, we move at Silicon Valley speed. Just as problems drive innovation, ideas then become reality. The ability to persevere and find an innovative way through a process, project, or opportunity is imperative to our success as an organization.

Rather than float a deadline, Choppers will finalize a minimum viable product with the client. This is done to move the ball forward and accomplish the task as initially defined.

Through open book management, we can empower the full organization to chop through a financial target. This transparency ensures we are all moving in the same direction.

If the story of Chopper Man—or these examples of the Chopper mentality at work—inspire you, then consider joining our team! A position at Kinney Group is an investment in your career. See a list of our current openings and apply online here.

Tips for Tech Recruiters: Learning the Lingo

Throughout my recruiting career, I’ve been primarily sourcing, screening, and networking with candidates in the technical field.  I’ve worked with .NET developers, web developers, systems administrators, desktop and helpdesk support, network administrators, and more.  All of these individuals have a very unique language deriving from their respective careers that were learned over years.  Through different conversations, interviews, and networking events you really start to pick up on the lingo and what different technical terms mean; which helps me determine which candidates are knowledgeable and which candidates are just giving me surface-level answers.

Given all that has gone on in the world currently, I’ve had to learn a number of different “languages” in different recruiting positions within the last 12-18 months.  I’ve learned and used many tools that helped progress my expertise in the recruiting space. I’d love to share these tips with you.

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

The best way to learn different technical languages, specific positions and different industry lingo is to talk to as many people as possible.  I have to be frank here for a second – all of the new technical languages were a little overwhelming when I started here at KGI. Everyone has to ramp into these new environments, so here are a couple of practices that can help:

Interviews are Learning Opportunities

Completing a lot of interviews with candidates who may or may not be qualified is good. But you should also use those conversations to learn more about their specific experience, details of job duties, and language that may differ from other environments.

Learn From Your Technical Talent

A great resource is utilizing our own colleagues and technical consultants as learning tools.  These individuals make themselves readily available to talk to and give more detail about their past experiences, current skill set, and job details they execute for Kinney Group.  This has been a HUGE help for me in terms of learning about Splunk, data analytics, and the different certifications and security clearances that are required.

 

The Secret to Security Clearances

Speaking of security clearances… this has been another great learning curve moving into a governmental talent acquisition opportunity.  From the outside looking in, you don’t ever think about how high-security clearance levels go.

Lean on Your Experts

A great aspect about Kinney Group is that our very own Facility Security Officer, Casie Nolan. Having a person whose specific job is to know each security clearance, how much it takes that security clearance, and how long the process will be to obtain that security clearance is incredibly helpful.  She talks to candidates and knows what qualifications a potential candidate should have – and when a candidate gives her their current security clearance, she’s able to verify the accuracy, quickly.

This is a tricky area for most recruiters, as recruiting cleared resources can be complicated. If you don’t have a direct work resource to lean on, reach out to your network for guidance.

 

To Sum It Up: Be a Sponge

When working with different companies and industries, be a sponge.  Soak up every bit of information and talk to as many expert level people in that field as possible.  Lastly, the best way to learn is to get uncomfortable and just jump in the pool with both feet, survive initially, and then excel!

Being in the recruiting world within tech comes with incredible opportunities for growth and learning. I hope you could take some practical tips back to your own organizations.

Permission to Be a Person

It’s your first day with a new employer, in a new position. I give you permission to get lost and be late. I give you permission to ask numerous questions. I give you permission to forget my name, where the bathroom is, and the name of your new role. I give you permission to be nervous and eager, to want to do everything in one day but have no idea what is going on around you. I give you permission to be excited and driven. I give you permission to finish all your Lessonly courses as quickly as possible on Day 1 (because I have more scheduled to roll out tomorrow and many days over your first 90 with us). I give you permission to leave a little early, overwhelmed with the many new names and faces you feel obligated to memorize before the weekends. I give you permission to come back tomorrow before your first orientation meeting, at whatever time works for your schedule. I give you permission to get coffee as often as you need it because coffee is my love language, but it’s also fuel to keep your fire going. I give you permission to be you and to show up every day as you and to take care of yourself, to fulfill your role as you see fit and to be a person.

Trust is Essential

As the Learning & Development Manager at Kinney Group, giving my new colleague permission to be a person is trusting them to make good decisions for themselves and the organization. Trust-giving is an important part of the Kinney Group culture and we lead with it right out the gate. Any Patrick Lencioni fan recognizes that trust is the foundational building block for developing and managing functional teams. The fast-paced, agile nature of working at a tech organization requires synchronized and operative departments in order to achieve business objectives.  Additionally, trust-giving teams generate a great culture.

I’m fortunate to set that tone for the organization, and I do that consciously in three distinct ways:

Re-direct Apologies.

In every new hire week I’ve managed, I’ve received some email, text message, phone call, or face-to-face explanation of an apology because the new colleague was late, pulled into another meeting, forgot to bring something to work, can’t remember their password… there’s always an apology. I re-direct these, letting my new hire know they’re okay and I have no expectations for them, other than to keep showing up and learning. Please don’t apologize to me, I trust that you’re a professional who can self-manage and make decisions. I am owed no apology.

Give & Encourage Autonomy.

My orientation schedules are full of blended-learning experiences, meetings, team activities, lunches & coffee dates. But I don’t plan for 40 hours of activity and work and I don’t dictate a start or end time to their days. I trust my new colleagues — just as I do my tenured colleagues — to work as they see fit, communicate, and focus on hitting their goals.

Be a Human.

I help my new colleagues unlearn and relearn how to be a person at work by paving the way. I give myself permission to be a person and lead with my vulnerability. By setting this example, I believe it helps new colleagues trust me and our organization as a people-focused business. And we are.

“A Company is Not a Thing, It’s All of Us”

Jim Kinney, our CEO, reminds us that a company is not a thing, it’s all of us who show up every day inspired and driven to carry out the company’s mission. We trust our colleagues to show up every day and give them permission to show up as the persons we hired, the talent we desired, and a crucial element to our business journey. On your first day, 90th day, 180th day and for every day you’re here. It’s to infinity and beyond, we’re chasing the stars. And we believe the best way to do that is to give you permission to be a person at work.

Recruiting for Splunk Expertise- What Do I Need?

Splunk Recruiting - What do I need? Kinney Group Blog Post

Recruiting for Splunk Expertise – What Do I Need?

As a Talent Acquisition professional for the past 20 years, I’ve seen that the requirements of a role and the day to day responsibilities of that role are often mismatched. How often have you seen an Office Assistant role that requires a Bachelor’s degree or an entry-level Customer Service role that requires 3+ years of customer service responsibility? In many cases, the best talent may not apply to the opportunity because the ‘requirements’ are not met by the best candidate. In addition to roles like Sales or Customer Service that exist at almost every organization, the phenomenon is common among highly-skilled technical roles also – like Splunk expertise.

A quick Splunk job search on Indeed.com returns over 7,500 active postings. As I reviewed some of these listings, several require an Architect level candidate, including required certifications. However, the duties listed are more in line with a Splunk PowerUser or Splunk Administrator candidate, which requires a significantly different skillset than a Splunk Architect. In today’s tight labor market and with Splunk skills in high demand, over-hiring can be a costly mistake for your organization both in the cost of the role remaining open and the competitive salary that will need to be offered to secure highly-skilled talent.

Splunk Level Analogy

When determining the level of candidate and actual requirements of your next Splunk listing, think about it in terms of plumbing. Would you call a Certified Plumber if you wanted to change the fixtures in your bathroom or if the toilet was backed up? According to TheSpruce.com, in their August 2019 article, there are five times you should call a plumber: (1) rapid water supply line leak, (2) no water available, (3) rapid drainage line leak, (4) sewer line leak, and (5) a natural gas leak in your water heater. Personally, I’d probably add a couple more to this list because I’m not a fan of ‘dirty jobs,’ but most of the time, I’d agree. I can manage an overflowing toilet, replacing a washer, sealing a leaky pipe, or changing the shower head. Additionally, if I don’t have time or interest in these projects, I can hire a general handyman to take these tasks off my hands.

There are times that you need a high-end Splunk Architect or Consultant (think Certified Plumber) in your environment. However, there are many day to day tasks that you simply need a PowerUser or Admin-level candidate (think DIY or handyman) to fulfill. Splunk is designed to be user-friendly and allow teams to ingest and use their data in meaningful ways without the assistance of a Splunk Architect. Hiring the right level of candidate is a more cost-effective solution and may contribute to increased retention as the candidate can grow within your organization as they grow their Splunk skillset.

What Splunker do I need?

PowerUsers are able to build advanced searches and utilize the core features in Splunk to create dashboards and reports. They are skilled in SPL commands and how to levy them for efficient Splunk searching. Splunk Admins understand that better searches and slimmed dashboards can greatly improve performance. They onboard new data sources, install and configure Apps/Add-ons while configuring and optimizing the Splunk components, ensuring high availability and high performance. Additionally, they configure alerts to proactively address issues with Splunk servers, highlight key data points, and further expand the Splunk use case(s).

When you truly need an Architect or Consultant, you can hire the experts from Professional Services Partners like Kinney Group. These projects might include implementation of Splunk Premium Apps like: Enterprise Security, ITSI, and UBA, new Splunk installations, migrations, or architectural scaling and optimization, and other more advanced project-based tasks.

Kinney Group’s Expertise on Staff team is available to help determine what level of candidate you need, as well as provide contract staff to fill the gaps in your hiring cycle. We’ve been recruiting and training Splunk talent for the past 5 years. We have built an impressive team of Splunk professionals who work with a bias-to-action providing a customer-centric approach on mission-critical analytics and automation projects. We offer Splunk Training, Managed Splunk Services, Expertise on Demand (Splunk support team), Expertise on Staff (Admin/User), and Professional Services (Architect/Consultant).

Expertise on Staff

Much more than staff augmentation, Kinney Group offers true Splunk expertise. Unless a staffing firm has both expertise and experience specific to Splunk, the best they can do is provide a candidate that has Splunk on their resume.

Since 2013, Kinney Group has delivered 500+ Splunk service engagements to commercial and public sector organizations, big and small. Kinney Group has developed applications on the Splunk platform and helped customers “turn data into doing™” with the Splunk platform. Kinney Group knows how to acquire Splunk talent, validate their expertise, and enhance their Splunk skills with specialized training and support. Traditional staffing doesn’t even come close.

Kinney Group’s Expertise on Staff (EOS) for Splunk service provides organizations with a compelling option for adding Splunk expertise to their teams. Whether an organization is expanding its Splunk team or looking to replace Splunk expertise that has departed, the EOS for Splunk service can provide immediate results.

Expertise on Staff for Splunk powered by Kinney Group

Learning on the Daily at a Scale-up Tech Firm

A group of engaged Kinney Group employees volunteering at Gleaners Food Bank.

“A day without learning is a day wasted. There is so much to learn and so little time to learn it.”
– Sir John Templeton

It happens all too often where I’m sitting down focused on my to-do list, and… WHAM! I get hit with a curveball: researching new technology, working with an unfamiliar client, or communicating to a diverse audience.  As a scale-up tech firm, Kinney Group is selling more services and products all the time, making it is impossible NOT to learn something new every single day. That’s the beauty of it. I can confidently say that I’m learning and gaining skills that will further my career every day I come to work.

Does that sound like something you might be interested in?

Working at Kinney Group

In order to function at a fast-paced tech company, you need to work hard, trust yourself, trust your colleagues, and hope for a little magic along the way. Each day, I spend the majority of my time recruiting and hiring people who have the talent to take Kinney Group to the next level. I get to see the tangible impact of that work when we’re able to secure a new contract or increase our service to clients—that’s inspiring. That is something that drives me to better myself and have detailed discussions with those around me so that I’m able to find new colleagues who will add to our team.

A group of engaged Kinney Group employees volunteering at Gleaners Food Bank.

 

At Kinney Group, every new engineer we hire brings his or her very own skill set and knowledge of different techniques to the table. In a world where the tools at your fingertips are continually being created and updated, staying relevant is vital. So it’s wonderful to see our talented and supportive team work to keep each other on their toes.

The “Non-Work” Times

Don’t worry, we have some fun too. I may lose a friendly game of euchre more than I win, but everyone is always a good sport. I can’t even begin to touch on the elaborate theories that came up during our weekly Game of Thrones recap meetings, where I was always having to defend why Bran is not the Knight King. And when the whole company comes together at the beginning of the year for our annual Kick-Off meeting, it’s a grand celebration of our work and each other.

Members of the Kinney Group Team having fun at our annual kick-off meeting.

Big Tech Skills, Small Company Vibe

Working at a small company has its perks, including wearing a lot of different hats. Some days I may be wearing my “culture and engagement” hat, and other days I may be wearing my “benefits and administration” hat. Some days I may be wearing my “trusted advisor” hat (AKA: “I’m going to google that this evening and get back to you tomorrow” hat). If I’m lucky, I may wear all those hats even before I go to lunch.

The best part about being a smaller firm is that everyone at Kinney Group is consistently getting pushed out of our comfort zones and is encouraged to try new things. In the past two weeks, I was able to attend a regional hiring and culture conference, make changes to our company-wide communication policy, attend a TechPoint summer engagement breakfast, and do some research on new vendors that pair with our Applicant Tracking System. This is all while hiring new colleagues and working towards my quarterly goals.

Charting Your Course at Kinney Group

At Kinney Group, your journey is up to you. The trick to staying relevant is reading different blog posts like this one from your fellow employees, watching our engineering team’s webinars, and taking part in our many employee functions, such as our annual Indianapolis 500 Carb Day celebration… Above all else, fine ways to challenge yourself every day and know that no matter what, you can find a group of people you can be yourself around here.

If this sounds like a work culture you’d like to join, consider exploring our Careers Page to see if Kinney Group could be the place for you.

About Kinney Group

Kinney Group is a solutions-oriented professional services consulting firm specializing in automation and analytics to harness the power of IT in the cloud to improve lives. Security is in Kinney Group’s DNA, enabling the company to integrate the most advanced automation, analytics, and infrastructure technologies as an optimized solution powering IT-driven mission and business processes in the cloud for federal agencies and Fortune 1000 companies.

We are an elite team with a unique combination of credentials for strict security environments who serve our customers with an unexpected experience. We specialize in Splunk, AppDynamics, Puppet, and VMware to serve our customers as they journey through digital transformation. Learn more at kinneygroup.com.

 

Confessions of a Member of the Boomerang Club

Confessions of a Member of the Boomerang Club - Kinney Group

If you stumbled upon this post while planning your vacation to the Australian Outback, I regret to inform you that this will not enlighten you about kangaroo sightseeing. Instead it should shed a bit of light on my journey with Kinney Group and what brought me “There and Back Again” (to quote the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins).

In the professional world, a “boomerang” is an employee who left a company for any amount of time to pursue other ventures and then returned to said company’s employment. According to Forbes.com, this is a workplace trend that has been picking up traction in the last several years.

“The grass is not always greener”

I started my Kinney journey during the fall of September 2015 as a member of the People Operations team (HR team). I had a little bit of recruiting experience but barely knew a thing about the technology world. For almost two years, I wrapped my brain around confusing tech terms in order to bring on the best people available to the Kinney team while providing support to and engaging with the current Kinney colleagues. I loved talking about my job and sharing about the amazing group of colleagues that I had the privilege to work with.

Just before my 2nd Kinney anniversary, stress in my role started mounting and I felt the need to step away to a new opportunity. While my team was supportive, my manager gave me a parting gift of a plant and an encouraging “The grass is not always greener on the other side.” I started my new opportunity with my Disney memorabilia and positivity in my heart.

Well, fast forward a few short months and my new company decided to eliminate the new role I had stepped in. Completely devastated, I started my job search. Coincidentally, Kinney Group’s People Operations needed a little bit of support, so I came back in a part-time role while I continued my job search. When I returned, I asked around to see how the company was doing and how all of my fellow colleagues were. I saw a few new faces, but other than that, I soon realized that I truly missed working at this company and engaging with everyone. When my job search concluded, and I received a few other job offers, I decided to return to Kinney Group full time and resume my role as a Talent Acquisition Partner.

Becoming an official Boomerang

Returning full time to Kinney Group has been filled with excitement along the way. One of the most interesting experiences has been connecting with fellow Kinney Group “boomerang” colleagues and hearing more about their stories as well. Since one of the main aspects of my role is engaging with potential candidates for roles at Kinney Group, I was a bit concerned about how I would answer the “how long have you been at Kinney Group?” question. After much thought, I decided to be honest and share that I had been with the company for a while, left and returned as a Boomerang colleague. I quickly discovered that most people appreciate and value that type of honesty and it often fueled further positive conversations about Kinney Group’s culture, mission and vision.

Perhaps one of the most interesting things I have discovered since returning is my renewed sense of confidence in my role. I realized that I had gotten so caught up in the day to day stress that I had lost some confidence in my ability to do my job well. After a few months away, my confidence seemed to flood back upon my return. I have also been more open in sharing opinions and bringing my personal voice to discussions and meetings.

What I learned in the end.

I have now been back in my role at Kinney Group for over one year. It has been so interesting reconnecting with colleagues who have been here for a while and building relationships with new colleagues who started in the interim. As I have progressed along this journey, I have picked up a few pieces of knowledge along the way:

  1. Building a positive company culture not only attracts new talent, but can retain current and former colleagues.
    • One of the key factors in my decision to come back to Kinney Group was the magnetic culture that they have built. The company culture that I left was very fun and vibrant, but the one that I returned to was intentional about engaging with each colleague in a meaningful way.
  2. The end might not really be the end.
    • This sounds cliché and a bit like a line from an aspiring poet’s work, but it really is true. Sometimes a job switch or relocation can seem permanent, but more often than not it is just the catalyst to the next phase. In my case, my journey led me back to my previous role but I could never have predicted that when I turned in my notice.
  3. Don’t be afraid to take risks.
    • Making the decision to leave Kinney Group was one of the toughest professional decisions I had to make up to that point in my career, but that choice led back to the place where I truly feel at home in my role. Sometimes taking that risk leads you back to a place of self-discovery.

I know that my work journey is pretty unique, but I am glad that I have been able to glean some nuggets of truth along the way. And you never know, maybe you’ll find yourself in a position where you can join the Boomerang Club at a previous company or you’ll welcome Boomerangs back to your team. Whatever happens, always be willing to take the risk and see what the grass looks like on the other side.

What is People Operations?

What is People Operations? Kinney Group has rebranded traditional Human Resources (HR) functions in the tradition of Google and many leading technology companies to People Operations. On the surface, it’s just a name change. In practice, the real change is seen in our approach to work every day and how we support our talented colleagues and exceed the organizational goals of the company.

Traditional HR is known as the place you go for help – the confidential door to which you can bring your complaints. HR is the team that ensures there’s a company picnic and a 401k plan. Need a new hire or a pink slip? Stop by HR. Don’t forget they can help you with on-boarding, compensation, internal communication, benefits, recruiting, performance management, training, discipline, career development, engagement, policy, and organizational design.

Almost every organization has an HR department. Whether it’s a one-person show or a team of professionals, there are teams of all types, sizes, capabilities, and experience levels. There is nothing wrong with traditional HR for many teams. Organizations need someone or a team of people to execute on all of the above categories and tasks. However, forward-leaning organizations need talented professionals who can prioritize all of those tasks and ensure the most important strategies and tactics are tackled effectively and efficiently. We partner with the business to solve problems and drive solutions which impact the day to day for our colleagues.

Personally, I’ve worked in various sized HR teams with differing structures. Some were generalist in nature and others had centers of excellence within the HR disciplines. As I’ve worked to scale the team at Kinney Group and meet the needs of our rapidly changing business, I’ve needed to reprioritize our focus areas and ensure we are best prepared to meet the challenges of the present and the future. That’s what scaling is all about – being ready for the unknown while preparing for a more predictable path and leveraging the strengths within the team.

People Operations (we call it ‘Pops’) is best defined as providing colleagues and leaders all the tools and resources necessary to be most successful. Rather than being the employment police, we are coaches, business partners, and guidance counselors. Coaches help guide colleagues and managers to solutions that work within the business. We provide guardrails, counsel, and tools for colleagues to solve their own problems and feel empowered to make decisions within the confines of our values, goals, and financial structure.

We are also doers. Operating our People functions is our top priority – this includes talent acquisition, on-boarding, career development and training, performance management, culture, engagement, and organizational communication.

Working with First Person’s Simply People product, we are excited to outsource our benefits functions and free up administrative time. Our current team of three People Ops professionals spends a significant amount of time on activities that help provide care for our colleagues but do not strategically move the business toward our goals. Now, we can focus on the current initiatives which will drive success for Kinney Group. Additionally, our colleagues will gain expertise on demand to help address their questions and make informed benefits decisions.

One of our core values is Innovative and our People Operations’ team is diving in and redesigning our function to be efficient, effective, and focused on business results. You can reach us at pops@kinneygroup.com to learn more about our team or apply for a current or future career with Kinney Group.

Check out our Careers page and current job openings here.

3 Steps to Amplify Your LinkedIn Profile

Regardless of whether you are in Sales, Project Management, Finance, or early in your college career, LinkedIn can help all professionals achieve their business objectives. While most people outside of Sales and Recruiting are using it to find a job… there is more. Users can keep up on industry news, follow their favorite company, and easily keep up with their network. Strengthening your profile will help you get the most out of LinkedIn (AND help you find a job if you want, sheesh!)

1. Ditch that awkwardly cropped picture from your brother’s wedding that you went to five summers ago and replace it with a professional headshot.

Trust me, I know how challenging it is first-hand to resist the temptation of selecting your favorite shot from the photo-shoot you had with your dog last month, but trust me on this. LinkedIn is a social platform for professional networking so have a profile picture that is consistent with the site’s purpose and your goals. Having a picture humanizes you and increases the number of profile views (14 times to be exact!) and interactions with your profile.

2. Follow Influencers and companies to easily keep up with recent events and what is trending in your industry.

A whopping 62% of adults received their news from Social Media in 2016 and that number is only increasing – curse you millennials! LinkedIn is an invaluable resource for helping you consolidate information from business journals and M&A activity in your industry to keeping up with Elon Musk or Oprah. The best part is you can avoid endless scrolling to avoid all of the cat memes and self-recorded videos of people trying out the new dance craze. On an unrelated note, is whip/nae nae still cool? I’m asking for a friend.

Also, other LinkedIn users can view who and what companies you follow. This provides your connections insight into your professional interests and could help continue to cultivate your network. If you are feeling froggy, try joining a LinkedIn group as well!

3. Start interacting more on the site by commenting on articles or make a post of your own on a topic you are knowledgeable in.

Oh, I went there! Everyone has something to contribute and creating your own content online will help solidify your own personal brand. If you are uncomfortable or uninterested in publishing your own blogs, start sharing pieces that you enjoyed reading. Help promote the networking event you are attending this month or a recent press release about your company. These actions could spark up engaging conversations within your network. It is encouraged that you initiate those conversations as well. If you read an article that you really enjoyed, make a brief comment highlighting your favorite part. I have had a ton of insightful interactions that all started in the comments section of a thought provoking blog.

Social media now and forever will have high impact on your career and professional life, so take advantage of it and start engaging today. Your network will grow, along with new opportunities.

Using People Data to Drive Business Decisions

The People Operations, or Human Resources, the field has changed dramatically throughout my career. The most impactful change has been the move toward analytics-driven decision-making. Leaders in People Operations have been using data for years to make budget and spending decisions based on traditional measures like cost-per-hire or percentage-based salary increases. While these basic metrics are crucial to a company’s success, progressive leaders must now drive their businesses with more advanced, analytics-based decision-making. Leaders like Laszlo Bock, famous for driving data analytics into Google’s People Operations’ function has stated that the goal of People Analytics is to “complement human decision-makers, not replace them.”

What if you could measure colleague engagement and happiness in a way that told you, with precision, when your teammates were most likely to put in their notice? How can talent acquisition teams project their ability to fill roles with quality candidates based on data already available? What schools’ graduates are most likely to relocate to your market and stay for more than two years? All of this is possible to predict in today’s ‘Big Data’ world. The data exists. The question is whether you can access it, utilize it, and begin to make predictions based in the data.

For a small business like Kinney Group, working in the IT Operations Analytics world, we help our clients use their data to solve business issues every day. Like the fable of the cobbler’s children; however, our internal People Operations’ team does not always have the internal tools and resources to best access and utilize this internal data to its fullest extent. By Q1 2017, my team will have full access to all of our internal data in a dashboarded, usable format. In the meantime, we are manually correlating data to find trends, make business decisions, and predict our 2017 successes and failures.

A current example of our ability to solve Kinney Group issues using data was our quick response to an identified colleague morale data change. Using real-time feedback gained from our business partner, OfficeVibe, we were able to address a significant mood change in the office with our Leadership team. Within two weeks, our scores had recovered because we had addressed specific issues within teams. As we gathered information, it seemed the change in scores was based on misinformation among teams. Without addressing this or being notified of the mood change through our data, we could have missed an easy opportunity to communicate the right information at the right time for our colleagues.

Every situation in which we are able to present data to a hiring manager or Executive rather than ‘go with our gut’, is a situation in which we can gain trust and share our expertise to best meet the needs of our business. Whether it be compensation data, colleague engagement, turnover predictions, or simply the best times of day to reach valued candidates on the phone, we are using data to improve results across the talent acquisition and People Operations’ functions. I look forward to sharing our successes here and learning what is working for other teams in our space. Happy correlating!