Future of Work with Tim Salau and Sal Khan of WeWork – BeFastTV
BeFast.TV is pleased and honored to capture Tim Salau and Sal Khan talking and discussing the topics of HR, Talent and Future of Work.
The interview was transcribed from the video-audio records. The date of interview: 15 July 2019 at WeWork, Salesforce Tower, San Francisco
Tim Salau: [00:00:00] Hey, welcome to another episode of to Talks Live. I’m here with my awesome friend Sal Khan, who is Head of Talent with WeWork Enterprise Technology and this livestream is being sponsored by great friends: 10X Innovation Lab, one of the most amazing innovation consulting labs in the Silicon Valley area. And this is for their HR at Scale Summit that is happening on October 28th through 31st in San Francisco, Silicon Valley. Please be a part of it. And I also want to shout out our lovely, lovely partners WeWork and BeFastTV who are sponsoring and hosting this livestream for us.
Today, we’re going to talk a little bit more about HR, talent and the future of work. And with my lovely friend here is Sal Khan, we’re going to dive deep on that topic and most importantly, how the future of work and the future of talent, what does that merge and how is it being affected by the shifting landscape, and how people having more control over their work, how they work and how organization happen having to design around people. So Sal I would love to have you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what you do as head of talent with enterprise technology.
Sal Khan: [00:01:17] I’ve been here coming up to one year, showing a couple of months here WeWork based in San Francisco. I have a team that’s split between here and Utah. So essentially what I do is I head up all of talent for enterprise and security now. But previously before that, I’ve worked at Google, Apple and back in Australia where I’m from originally, Accenture. But I did have my start from agency when I used to live in Chicago for a number of years.
Tim Salau: [00:02:13] So Sal you work with WeWork and the future of work. And you’ve been in the industry for over 20 years now. So how is work changed from when you started in doing talent till now? What’s going on in present day? How would you say it?
Sal Khan: [00:02:29] In particularly talent?
Tim Salau: [00:02:30] Yes, specifically.
Sal Khan: [00:02:33] There’s a lot of changes. When I initially began LinkedIn wasn’t really around. It did stop. It was a freepremium product at that time. So it was networking on LinkedIn profiles. But your ATA systems was databases, Excel spreadsheets and things like that. But if you want to dive in a little deeper, what it looks like from a company internal company perspective, everything’s more data-driven. A lot of companies now, and especially my managers, the ones that I support. They’re asking for more much more richer data. So gone have pretty much pivot tables. We all used to use pivot tables back in the day, but now it’s rich interactive data via software like this is intelligent business intelligence. Tableau is one example. Domo is another one. But yeah, basically they’re just wanting interactive rich data that’s coming to them. And just seeing everything not so much static but just expanding and moving in real-time.
Sal Khan: [00:04:01] I would love to get what’s your definition for the people? How do you define future of work? Because what I’ve learned as Mr. Future Work and is talking and being in the space for the last three to five years now is that everyone describes the future of work differently. Some people say it’s designing your organization around people. Some people say it’s taking control of your career, which is kind of my definition as well. But I would love to get perspective on it. And most importantly, why do you think we have to be more data driven in this landscape?
Sal Khan: [00:04:38] I would say in particular with WeWork, it’s interesting because right now how I see the future of work is this intersection of space, the physical space that we have and technology. So that’s essentially what I’m building. So I’m very much being influenced by that right now. And it’s really interesting space before what it used to be. It was: you take charge of your career, for sure. How do you measure that? You’re in one level where every year and a half, two years, and you rise up. But I think here what we’re trying to do is it is kind of interesting. It’s the intersection of someone being happy, employee being happy, I think is number one, because, the fact of the matter. Millennials are here in the workforce. Data shows that, that this jumps, someone doesn’t stay in a position necessarily for more than a year and a half, couple of years, gone are the days where someone would stay in the workforce or in that company for 20 years.
Tim Salau: [00:05:57] So I think essentially everyone wants opportunity. And they want upwardly movement in their careers. And now you intersect that with happiness. Now employees want to be more happy, internally happy, physically more happy, more healthy. And that impacts H.R. when it comes to physical space. That impacts facilities. It’s holistic. It’s overarching. It’s appeal, essentially, what wework’s mission is elevating the world’s consciousness. Right. How do we do that? What do we do? You have our brick and mortar spaces which are for our members where they all come together. So if you’re a business of one to a business of 15 employees, you come into a WeWork space and you basically have that sense of community, everyone coming together. So it really is. And the idea is to have people networking within that space and then actually communicating with each other. And it just makes for a much more richer workforce. People don’t want to take on that many stress at work. They don’t want to be hyper competitive with one another and things like that.
Tim Salau: [00:07:31] They don’t want one of those days where you feel like you’re going to work and you have to compete to get the job done. Imagine literally organizations were built around this concept of people competing against each other. And in order to accomplish goals, which is mind boggling. And thankfully, we live in a generation now where because of the millennial generation and just the changing landscape of work, it’s more so cohesion, cooperation, collaboration. That’s what creates productive outcome..
Sal Khan: [00:07:59] It’s your ability to have impact, right? That’s essentially what it comes down to the ability to have impact on the organization as a whole and not what can you bring to the table? But what impact can you have on that organization, not just for the company itself, for the bottom line, but it’s how do you have an impact with one another. It’s really about how do you mentor someone? I like to recruit coach player mentalities.
Tim Salau: [00:08:31] Wow. What does that mean? Talk to me about that.
Sal Khan: [00:08:33] Having that coaching mentality is where you’re able to zoom up, see where there’s a gap or something like that. And being able to jump in there, help that out, zoom back out and then overall mentor and lead a team, turn into a coach player mentality.
Sal Khan: [00:09:07] And that’s something that I’ve learned by supporting business leaders C suite. In particular, I learned that from my last person that I used to support back in my last company where he said, Sal, I need you to help me scale and bring in coach players. It was a gritty, scrappy startup. So we weren’t focused on bringing people with high in into hyper specialized roles because we were scaling. So we needed people to wear multiple hats. So that’s how I was recruiting at that time.
Tim Salau: [00:09:44] So what you’re saying is that talent leaders, there’s this prioritization of focus on bringing in people into organizations who are coach, who are that coach player mentality. So that’s something talent managers talent league should be looking for. I have to ask you for a talent manager, HR leader who is in an organization right now that isn’t necessarily bringing in people like that. How do they turn the tide within their organizations? How do they lobby for this new way of working in recruiting leaders? People have that coach player mentality and even junior level people who are hungry, who are passionate.
Sal Khan: [00:10:20] I think it all comes down to basic – the company’s culture. Does the company foster that? Does the company have that mentality and that attitude and wants to bring people in, but at the same time, it’s bringing the right person or that right talent for the company at the right time for what that companies need. So when you’re scaling at a company that maybe 10 people, you’re going to be recruiting someone in finance for that department, for example. That’s gonna be completely different as if it was two thousand people where you might be looking for someone for a specific report building or GNA. While you’re looking for more a generalist at that perspective similar things with H.R. and H.R. functions, you’re looking for a leader, you’re looking for a generalist, someone that can do documentation site or W2s. But then as you scale, you need someone that’s more specialized. You go into more of a job business partner that maybe has experience with scaling up engineering departments or enterprise sales or sales departments. So it’s completely different profiles. So it’s hiring the person with the right skill set in that right need for that company at that point of time.
Tim Salau: [00:11:51] And ensuring that the character match to the cultural values of that company.
Sal Khan: [00:11:55] But the values is a super key. We have to be about values.
Tim Salau: [00:12:00] At WeWork we have values. And we are really nested within in our culture. You have to be an entrepreneur. You have to be ambitious. You have to be authentic. Tenacious. I think a lot of companies understate and don’t realize how important values are to facilitate culture. I would love for you to talk a little bit more about that.
Sal Khan: [00:12:21] Well, you need to have a mission statement and values, it’s a must. That’s what people will be living and breathing in that company. We do a combination of value based on interviewing, behavioral interviewing as well. So we do a combination of that.
Tim Salau: [00:13:05] So you were talking about how cultural values and mission are important.
Sal Khan: [00:13:12] Yeah, I think you need that. That’s the foundation. That’s the foundation that any company is built on. It’s what you’re bringing there. So here as we’re scaling in engineering, I’m particularly focused on in the engineering world here at WeWork, there’s about twelve hundred employees. And it’s where we’re just looking for very strong software engineers that have an impact on the value. And that can really be critical and key as high as we’re not just looking for amazing software engineers. We’re looking for people also that have that affiliate to out our values.
Tim Salau: [00:14:02] I love this whole notion of we are hiring people, think of their character and ensured that when you do value based hiring and maps to the cultural values of your company. I actually think that’s a new form of thinking about hiring. A lot of organizations haven’t adopted yet. In the past, it’s a hire whoever comes to your door and who has a skill fit and who addresses the job need, which you have to do more than that now because I think it’s more about hiring for potential.
Sal Khan: [00:14:31] It’s hiring for potential. It’s hiring for a runway. But at the same time people have done hiring mistakes, so you don’t want to make a hiring mistake, right? Because a hiring mistake can be impactful on the entire team where they can bring people down. A bad hire can essentially suck the energy out of our team, in that meeting, whatever you have. There are just some cultural vampires who suck the energy out of the room. Literally.
Tim Salau: [00:15:10] Don’t be a cultural vampire!
Sal Khan: [00:15:15] So, people have different things like for example they have no AW rule. So they don’t want to hire a smart jerk. But we try and aside from just doing your assessments when it comes to the interview, the core questions, one has to affiliate themselves, when we’re bringing someone into the values of the company, as well as. There should be someone on my to panel that is responsible for value based hiring where they’re looking at, does this person raise the bar and take things to the next level?
Tim Salau: [00:15:59] I think it’s all about this whole notion of hiring around team intelligence too. Are they a cultural ad? But they also make the team like Jo, elevate, push.
Sal Khan: [00:16:16] Jo, elevate, push. That’s what you want. When I hire someone, when I hire a recruiter on my team, I always look at the prospective like, what can I learn from that person? Even if they two years, three years of experience. What can I learn from that person? What can I learn from that person culturally, perhaps, if that person comes from analytics background. You seeing all these kids graduating now from university that have r code and things like that.
Sal Khan: [00:16:53] Yes. What can I learn from that person and what can I instill in that person as well when we’re hiring.
Tim Salau: [00:17:00] So let me ask you, I want to talk a little bit about talent branding, because I think talent branding is really important in terms of the future of work and ensuring that you’re bringing in people, but you’re also developing to be the faces of your company, to give them platforms, to elevate, to take ownership, have their LinkedIn profiles, all of that. And I feel like talent branding is a really important aspect of the future work.
Tim Salau: [00:17:28] So as a talent leader how do you position people who are coming in junior and mid-level and those people who don’t even know how LinkedIn works or they don’t really know how to put themselves out there? How do you motivate them to get themselves out there?
Sal Khan: [00:17:46] It’s an interesting question. Everyone’s a brand representative. Everyone with company swag. Everyone has WeWork t-shirts, we do a shout out to the folks that design ours swag. Our WeWork stuff is kind of cool that you can wear it around and things. We’re always brand ambassadors, right, for any company that you represent. Doesn’t matter if it’s just WeWork or any other companies. It’s always brand ambassadorship. That’s why you’re always representing not just nine to five, but you go out, you’re networking. People naturally ask who do you work for? The first question you get at a party always, it’s always about where you wear icebreaker. So you are always representing doesn’t matter how you look at it. You’re always representing. So you’re gonna to be good corporate citizens, custodians for the brand, because that there’s that perception. You always have to look after the brand. That’s something that I learned when I was working back at Accenture. So it’s been good times.
Tim Salau: [00:19:37] Give us two to three tips that you want any H.R. leader, any talent management leader watching this right now to think of when it comes to adapting their talent team to the future of work. What should they be thinking of doing from an organizational perspective? Two to three tips.
Sal Khan: [00:19:57] I’d say a lot of it starts what I’m finding is that lot of companies don’t when it comes to interviewing capturing feedback. How do we capture that feedback? Where do we capture it? Ideally, you should be captured in the applicant tracking system. You should be captured within like 48 hours of an interview happening and the debrief happening where collectively the group come together where they make a decision. So you’re making a decision that’s made by the masses and not an individual. And not hiring like and just hiring people from different aspects and angles. Different facets. It’s like a diamond, right? Different facets of the diamond. I would say that is probably something that I’ve seen as companies typically, the audience, if they’re from a company where they’re looking at scaling. [00:20:48] But I would say that’s probably the biggest thing that I’ve always seen from companies of all sizes is capturing that feedback and having a proper debrief and interview, training, interviewing, training. [00:21:01]
Sal Khan: [00:21:01] We’re going through that right now ourselves. I’m heading that up here for the technology side of the organization. We’re doing interval training. What does that look like? What should they be looking for? Because it can get as we’re rapidly scaling. What level do we bring people in? We’ve got to make sure that everyone is calibrated.
Tim Salau: [00:21:27] We don’t want that to be like a very subjective assessment.
Sal Khan: [00:21:29] Exactly. Because when it comes to H.R., if we’ve hired someone at a level that is below, then, in six months, seven months, we might lose that person because the level wasn’t correct. We brought that person at the wrong level. And that’s probably should be top of mind for H.R. organizations as the company scales. That’s from what I’ve seen. But these are very tactical, right? That I’ve seen a lot of the problems are at the tactical level and not so much at the visionary, what it looks like in the next 5, 10 years. I mean, that has to be brought back to how we hire. But it’s all about while we scale. And that really needs to be set strategically from the very beginning. But it’s tactical strategy, that’s how I call it.
Tim Salau: [00:22:21] Simple stuff. Understanding and capturing feedback after interviews. And then making sure that when you’re interviewing candidates that you’re actually aligned, you’re calibrated, that’s in an objective way while you’re making a decision. That’s powerful because the simple stuff is what get you Glassdoor reviews.
Sal Khan: [00:22:45] Again, it’s the branding. It’s just super important that someone has a bad experience. It is as easy as that person going on Glassdoor and writing a review. It’s kind of impact because every person that I speak with, especially here in the Valley and in San Francisco, is people research. They research a company. People talk. It’s a competitive landscape. People nowadays, when they start interviewing, they have two or three offers in hand. So it’s making sure that person has impact, that they’re coming in to that right role at the right time.
Sal Khan: [00:23:33] That’s how I see it. So a lot of my strategies are just very tactical. Because it’s like you’ve got to reverse back a little bit and fix it. And then that’s how you can rapidly scale because you can rapidly scale. But then towards the top five years down the track, it’s going to get a little wobbly.
Tim Salau: [00:23:57] So people are asking some questions. Marina Bay is asking: “How is the technology transforming the recruitment landscape and affecting the ratio of real people versus smart software?” What’s your opinion and in your opinion, your experience?
Sal Khan: [00:24:25] I’m not a software engineer. So it’s going to be difficult for me that answer something like that when it comes to AI. But I can answer that question. I don’t know if it’s particular to software engineers or for pertains to recruiting and H.R. when it comes to A.I. But I would say A.I. is making inroads right now that is quite scaling. How does a coordinator scheduling interview very quickly? You’ve got four or five people on the panel, everyone has different time slots. AI comes in and just rapidly, quickly finds the best time where everyone’s available and just swaps it in and out. So that’s something routine. That’s AI. Because we want the coordinator would be coming into an elevated role. Because to me a recruiting quarter is my backbone. They know the business as just as well as me. They come into all my meetings and things like that because we’re trying to manage headcount. We’re working with finance. We’re working with H.R. and we’re finalizing all those things. So it helps. AI is having an impact where it’s freeing up people from the mundane, the day to day tasks that they do repetitively where we can be strategic thought leaders in that area, for example. That’s how I see AI is having an impact. It’ll be interesting to see what the future of AI will be in particular with H.R. and recruiting in the next five to seven years.
Sal Khan: [00:26:09] This is going to be interesting, very interesting times. I think it’s super close.
Tim Salau: [00:26:14] Great question, by the way, Marina, Naresh says: “This has been great capturing feedback is the application of the feedback. So really kind of having a sense of how to feed people feel when they leave your rant, when they leave the interview in your company. That is important. Important signal to see you’re doing good recruiting.”
Sal Khan: [00:26:37] It’s a candidate experience, too, right?
Tim Salau: [00:26:38] It’s a part of the employee experience too, even know they’re not a candidate yet.
Sal Khan: [00:26:44] We do a really good job in boomerang people. Someone that wasn’t particularly good fit at this point of time could be a fit in the future. Three, four months time plus that person is a network in itself where they can refer people to say if they’ve had an amazing experience with a particular recruiter, they wouldn’t hesitate to say, hey, I know this amazing recruiter. And that’s how I always leave candidates, that leave WeWork or my previous company. Your network’s important if you know anyone that’s looking for a role, you just have them contact me. It doesn’t matter what role it is or anything like that, let’s have the conversation first. That’s all I holistically look at a résumé tells a little bit of a story. I know a lot of recruiters out there don’t read cover letters. I’m one of those. I’m one of those recruiters that does read cover letters.
Tim Salau: [00:27:47] Recruiters never read cover letter!
Sal Khan: [00:27:47] It’s always a debate. I think it’s a lot of folks that are old school. But I love reading cover letters. I’m just one of those. I’m dorky in that sense. But I don’t think I’ve met a recruiter that likes it or likes reading it. I contextually like it. I think it adds color. LinkedIn adds color to someone’s résumé because your resume is black and white. It’s descriptive. It’s prescriptive. It’s how they made an impact, the numbers and data and how they move the needle and things like that. But I tend to scroll down to the bottom of the résumé, see what their hobbies, interests and things like that are. And then overall, read the resume. That’s how I see it. That’s how I recruit. I recruit based on if someone’s a fit. And I think they’re good, like you were saying earlier, runway that potential, I always pick up the phone and or reach out to them and say, hey, do you have 15, 20 minutes? That’s all that gets you. Time gets wasted. But I don’t work in a commission environment. So for me, it’s just making good connections and bringing good people in. My objective is when I hire someone that they stay in the company for three plus four plus five plus years. That’s how I see the goal. Because that’s because I see that person in the hallways every day. How many times I see you in a way. Often, right? And then you can stop me and you say, hey, Sal, I have this amazing person. And that’s what a lot of interviews my hiring managers, do you know? And I always afford that candidate time to have a chat with me, because I know if there’s not a fit right here, at WeWork then I have a network that I can still be in touch.
Tim Salau: [00:29:47] Sal, Thank you so much. You’ve been amazing. Where can people who are viewing our air and all the gems that you shared today. What can they connect what you, brother?
Sal Khan: [00:29:54] LinkedIn!
Tim Salau: [00:29:54] LinedIn, especially if you want a job at WeWork.
Sal Khan: [00:30:01] Sal Khan.
Tim Salau: [00:30:03] And with that said, thank you so much, brother. And I want to shout out our partners once again. 10x Innovation, one of the most amazing innovation consulting agencies in the Silicon Valley, San Francisco Bay Area. WeWork, the We company. We love you and BeFastTV, who is partnering and sponsoring this lovely screen which you all just watched today. Please show them some love. Connect with them. Find their websites. Will add links in the comments. And thank you so much for viewing another episode of Tim Talk Live. Piece!