How DigitalOcean Is Scaling Talent and Developing Employees

Gone are the days when employees evaluate opportunities based on numbers alone. We’ve heard a lot about the elusive company culture that keeps high performers at top companies, but what does that mean, and if you’re at a fast-growing startup, how do you create and maintain it?

WATCH:Supercharge Performance with Real-Time Feedback” ft. Lyndsey Hannigan

We asked DigitalOcean‘s talent development manager, Lyndsey Hannigan, to share some of the lessons she’s learned in developing and retaining talent at a company that’s aggressively growing its headcount. Not surprisingly, collecting feedback and enabling growth are major themes. We’re excited to see how DigitalOcean’s data-driven performance management strategy drives success in the years to come.

What matters more than compensation at DigitalOcean?

We have a vibrant culture enabled by continuous feedback and an emphasis on development.

While we believe we pay quite competitively, we have seen over and over again that people join DigitalOcean because they are excited to get to work on really interesting technical challenges at a scope and scale that few other companies can match. Because we’re scaling at a pretty remarkable pace, people who join get to grow as we grow. It’s all about our developmental culture, really! We have a vibrant culture enabled by continuous feedback and an emphasis on development. When people join DigitalOcean, they know they’re joining an organization that’s committed to their learning and growth.

What’s been your most successful program in recruiting and retaining top talent, especially engineers?

We find that top talent — especially in engineering — are excited to join DigitalOcean because of the opportunities they get here to work on big, meaty challenges that haven’t yet been solved. Joining our team means that you don’t just get to run or maintain a feature that’s already been built — you actually get to contribute to defining and building it from the ground up.

The best way to scale culture is to hire leaders who share our values Click To Tweet

We also provide a whole host of ongoing learning and professional development programs that keep top talent feeling stretched and challenged, and have been deliberate about creating a diverse and inclusive engineering team that people are excited to be part of.

What are your company values, and how did you define them?

Our values are: Strive for simple, and elegant solutions. Respect your peers. Speak up and listen when others do. Trust and be trustworthy. Our community is bigger than just us. Love is what makes us great.

Perhaps surprisingly, the People team at DigitalOcean did not lead the efforts in defining our company values. The process actually started with one of our cofounders, Moisey Uretsky, and was then driven forward by a group of individual contributors who came together voluntarily to formalize them and help the rest of the organization understand how to live them every day. It’s been a truly grassroots process, which we think makes our values even more authentic and powerful.

What HR innovation are you most excited about?

I’m excited about us becoming a much more data- and feedback-enabled culture. We collect feedback regularly through a number of high- and low-touch mechanisms. Candidates in our hiring pipeline complete a survey after they finish their final interviews, we collect data from new hires throughout the on-boarding process, we have a quarterly feedback and goals check in process where employees receive feedback from their managers, peers, and direct reports, and we conduct twice-annual engagement surveys and once-monthly pulse surveys.

I’m excited about us becoming a much more data- and feedback-enabled culture.

It might seem like survey overload (and maybe it is … we’re collecting data on that, too!), but we do a great job of pulling these data points together to drive better decision making on a whole bunch of fronts. We’re convinced this will help us ensure that we always make more informed people-first decisions.

How do you scale culture at a fast-growing company?

We believe that the best way to scale culture at a company that’s growing as fast as DigitalOcean is to hire leaders who share our values and who will champion them and role model our core leadership principles. After all, every single one of our employees plays a role in creating and influencing culture every day! We believe it’s all about having a clear vision for the organization, communicating more than we think necessary, and providing candid developmental feedback at every turn.

Lyndsey Hannigan Digital Ocean

Lyndsey Hannigan currently leads the Talent Development team at DigitalOcean. She and her teammates are responsible for dreaming up and bringing to life the innovative organizational performance and learning programs that set DigitalOcean apart from others in the tech industry. Before joining DigitalOcean, Lyndsey worked as a consultant at both KPMG and the Refinery Leadership Partners, where she delivered cutting-edge leadership development programming and change advisory services. She holds degrees from The University of Queensland (Brisbane, AUS) and Queen’s University (Kingston, CAN).