326 – James Giroux on workplace culture, team dynamics and leadership in WordPress companies

Interview with James Giroux and Nathan Wrigley.

On the podcast today we have James Giroux and he’s here to talk about a new project that he’s set up called TeamWP. It’s all about workplace culture, team dynamics and leadership in WordPress companies.

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We open up the conversation with a lengthy chat about the rich history that James has in the WordPress space. He’s worked for lots of different companies in a multitude of different roles, some big, some small.

He’s had mixed experiences in these companies, feeling empowered and enabled in many roles, but also working in dysfunctional workplaces where he feels that his talents were not exploited to their fullest potential.

Normally, the podcast guest’s background would not be all that significant, but given the nature of the conversation today, it truly is.



You see, the itch that James is trying to scratch with TeamWP is trying to figure out what a ‘good’ WordPress workplace looks like; what represents a ‘good’ company.


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Employees want to know the answer to this question, as then they’ll try hard to apply to work at those companies. And, of course, given that employers want the most talented workforce, then unlocking this mystery would be useful to know as well.

Now James is not suggesting that he’s got the answers to all these questions just yet. It’s a work in progress, but TeamWP is on a mission to find out what all this means.

So how do you go about gaining insights into what a ‘good’ company is? Well you survey all-the-people! Which is exactly what James has done.

We talk about the ‘Team Experience Index’, which is an 11-step form which will allow TeamWP to gather the data that they need to gather the data and begin the work of drawing conclusions about what employers and employees like and dislike in the workplace.

It’s a case of thinking about what you like and what you don’t like in the places that you’ve worked before. Improvement that you wish you could make, and innovations that you’ve seen work. Sounds a little hard to define? The survey will guide your thoughts, so don’t worry about that.

I’m not 100% sure of the exact date that the survey is going to end, but at the time of publishing this podcast, it’s still up and running, but time is limited.

The intention is to gather the data and release the initial conclusions at a presentation (or similar) at WordCamp Europe in June 2023. Athens, here we come!

James is still working out the concept of what TeamWP is exactly. Perhaps it’s a consultancy. Maybe he’ll talk directly, 1-on-1 with companies about how his data can help their companies to be more fulfilling places to work.

Towards the end of the podcast we talk about the future of WordPress, and whether or not one can expect it to be the driver of growth that it has been in recent years.

How can companies attract the best talent if the prospect of working with WordPress is not as ‘hot’ as it used to be? Are new / younger people interested in WordPress, or would they rather work for / with the latest ‘cool’ thing that’s being talk about?

How can we make WordPress ‘cool’ or ‘desirable’ as a career path for the next generation, and what does any of that even mean?

Mentioned in this podcast:

TeamWP

Team Experience Index Survey 2023

@jamesgiroux – James’ Twitter

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Transcript (if available)

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[00:00:00] Nathan Wrigley: Welcome to the WP Builds podcast, bringing you the latest news from the WordPress community. Now welcome your hosts David Waumsley and Nathan Wrigley.

Hello there and welcome once again to the WP Builds podcast. You have reached episode number 326 entitled James Gru on Workplace Culture, team Dynamics and Leadership in WordPress Companies. It was published on Thursday, the 11th of May, 2023. My name's Nathan Wrigley, and I'll be joined by James in a few moments to have our chat.

But before then, a few bits of housekeeping. The first thing to say is if you head to our subscribe page, WP Builds.com/subscribe, you can be updated on all of the socials. You can join our email list where we won't spam you, but we will let you know when we produce new content. That's typically two podcast episodes a week that this week in WordPress show, which is live on a Monday.

But also this the Thursday podcast. We will email you when we produce those episodes. Also, if you go to that page, you can find our other social channels as well. And a request from me, if you're listening to this on a podcast player, that could be maybe Spotify or Apple Podcast and you feel like giving us a review, please do.

It really does help us find a new audience, so that would be very much appreciated. We did three live things this week. We did our, this week in WordPress show on Monday. We also had a U I UX show with peach and E on Tuesday. And then we had our second of six in our webinar series with Ws Forms founder and developer Mark West Guard.

You can find the information about that over on the WP Builds.com website. There is an archive page, and if you click on the archive link in the main menu on the WP Builds.com website, go to the demos archive and mark stuff belongs there. And if you want to find picture stuff, it is on our YouTube channel.

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Okay. What have we got in store for you today? We have James Giroux and he is gonna be talking about a new endeavor of his, it's called Team wp. And we get into what team WP is. Essentially, he's trying to figure out what. A good in air quotes workplace in the WordPress ecosystem looks like. What do good companies do?

What do good employees expect from their employers? Things like team culture. Trying to figure out certifications and James's on a mission, really to figure out how we can openly share. The best practice so that all of WordPress will be able to grow and the workplaces that we will be involved with would be nice places to work.

He's got a survey, which we talk about, and he's hoping to put all of the data together and release that into the world at Word Camp Europe, which is happening fairly soon. Really interesting project. Really nice guy, and I hope that you enjoy the podcast. I am joined on the podcast today by James Rou.

Hello James. Hello. Nice to have you with us. James is gonna talk to us today about an endeavor that he has started really recently called Team wp. We'll do all the usual introductions, but it might be a good idea. To follow along with this conversation, just pause this podcast. Go to the URL team WP dot.

Co, so t e a m wp.co. Kinda have a poke around there and then come back and you'll be fully primed as to what the conversation is gonna be about. But if you don't wanna do that, keep listening. And James is gonna tell us a little bit about himself. So first question, James, just give us a little potted history the sort of elevator history, if you like, of you and your relationship with WordPress, who you've worked for and all of that.

Sure. Yeah.

[00:04:53] James Giroux: My, my WordPress story goes, oh, gosh. All the way back to, I think 2006 is when I first really got stuck into WordPress. I was looking for something to build a website on for a company that I was or an organization I was involved with, and found WordPress and like everyone was like, Ooh, free themes.

Ooh, free plug-ins. And at the time those free themes were things like changing the color or Right. They maybe it was so inflexible. And that, of course, led me on a journey to discover things and figure things out. But I really took. Took full control of WordPress in my life, I guess around 2012.

So 11 years ago I left the role that I was in and decided I wanted to be a full-time brand designer. And that's my background was interactive, multimedia and graphic design. So I thought, oh, I'll go build logos and letterhead for companies and charge them gazillions of dollars.

And hopefully that would work. But It didn't. And what ended up happening? It was right around the time of 99 design, so that, like I grew up at Yeah. And worked with clients where, you would typically pay 15, 20, $30,000 for a full brand due up, logo and all the things. And so I thought that was what my future would hold. 99 designs brought it down to a hundred dollars and you could just get your logo. And so it was like, okay, what am I gonna do? And so I found a few clients and they were like, yeah, this is great to have the logo, but we also need a website.

And I went I know this thing called WordPress and I've heard of this thing called Invato and I can, buy a theme and customize it for you. So I did that. Very quickly realized that even with customization, I still needed to know css, a little bit of PHP and all that kind of stuff to really n html to make it work.

So buying books and doing all those things. And then I ended up finding a, an article, I can't remember where the article was, but it's the article that, that really kicked things off. And it said, don't you know, as you're building out. Don't build on a theme, build on a framework. Try to think of the your framework that you're building your agency on and your framework that you're building for clients on, and find something that you can use and reuse over and over again.

And that was the time of page lines. And so I got involved in the page lines community, which existed for a little while. I think they were probably one of the first drag and drop true front end drag, drag and drop page builders at the time. Yeah, I remember that. Yeah. Yeah. And so I got involved there and all of a sudden, got involved in the community there.

And shortly started developing products for that framework. And that's really what got me into WordPress full-time. All of a sudden I was getting clients internationally. I was growing like building, building sites for random companies. Like I did sites from Canada. I did sites in Sweden and in the UK and Australia and all over the US And I was like, all of a sudden I had this international business and I was like, whoa, no.

What do I do? And I was selling products. I created a something called Page Lines Academy at the time to teach other people how to use page lines. Did video courses from my basement and I set up a little studio and did courses that way and and then through my connection to page lines, they actually invited me to come and work for them.

So I worked for them as their director of operations and did all the community stuff and the developer relations things. And this is you're getting like full detail story here. It's probably too much. Enjoy. Great. It's really good. Those early days I'm reflecting a lot on those early days cuz, just thinking about how did I really get into WordPress?

And that was really how it happened. I went out to San Francisco to meet the team from page lines and went to, to work camp San Francisco the last time they ever had it there. And from there I actually met somebody from my neck of the woods who invited me to PressNomics and said, Hey, you should come to PressNomics.

And at the time, wasn't making a ton of money, but recognized that going to these conferences was probably a value. I said, all right, I'll go. So I bought a plane ticket and bit the bullet and off I went. Didn't have a hotel to stay in or a place to stay, so I crashed in.

This person's hotel room, which was crazy, sleeping on the couch for a few days of that conference. But met some fine folks from around the WordPress ecosystem. It's where I first started drinking weird beers with Pippin and wa you know, like hanging out with Chris Lemon and watching him and his little cadre smoke cigars in under the orange trees in the lounge there.

There was just fun little memories of that. Met Brian Kros guard and joined post status. All those like starter stories, I have had either a passenger seat or a backseat too. And watching these stories unfold in WordPress and But met some folks from Invato.

And one of the really fun things that I did, it was Adam Pickering. Not sure if you know him, but he he likes to go crazy. He was an Invato author at the time and he hired a Volvo and was volunteering to drive people back and forth from the airport in. Phoenix to the to the venue that we were going to in Tempe.

And so I just hopped in the car with him and we would have conversations with all of these to me, like senior and like larger than life, WordPress folk, right? As we're driving them back and forth from the airport and had this really interesting conversation with some Envato folks. And a few months later on Twitter, I saw a conversation go back and forth that Envato was looking for a WordPress evangelist.

And so I ended up applying for that job, got the job started working for Invato part-time. Went to Prestons the next year, but not as an attendee as a sponsor ripping Invato, which was just crazy. And co-hosted a party with post status and Again, like just the way that my life flipped around to being on the outside looking in, right?

Yeah. To being on the inside. That's nice. In the course of a year was just not presos is really where things took off. And yeah from, I spent five years at Envato moving around. I ended up moving across the world, moving my family to Australia. Lived in Melbourne for four years, something like that. And and then when my time ended there ended up at Gravity Forms where I got to be their resident YouTuber. That was always fun. Yay. And hanging out with their community. It was very interesting going from Invato, which had a team of 300 when I started and 600 when I left.

And a developer community or creator community of Actively 60, 70,000 to a developer community of six or seven and a staff team of 30. So like huge, hugely scaled down compared to what I was used to. And then was there for a little while. Left in February of 2022 and joined Stellar, which again, another company that had about 400, 500 staff.

Something like that. Working as their director of brand and product marketing. So I sped up the end there to get every, everyone there the calls. You know what

[00:13:35] Nathan Wrigley: it typically the intro like that probably wouldn't, it wouldn't really, he help to be quite so lengthy about it. But in this case, I really feel that there's a lot of value in that because of what we're gonna talk about, which is team WP and Correct.

Really. If you hadn't have had a laundry list of people that you'd worked for and different environments that you'd worked in, big companies, small companies that have grown and so on and so forth, then I think the proposition that you are putting forward, people could justifiably look at you and go who are you to talk about this?

But given everything that you've just told us, I think your credentials are, solid. So team WP, On the website, the strap line is the team and culture platform for the WordPress ecosystem. This is a question which, you can go in any direction you like here. Just tell us what your vision for team WP is.

We're recording this towards the sort of latter part, of April, 2023. So by the time this comes out, probably in five or six weeks, something like that, maybe aspects of this will have changed and what have you. But broadly speaking, just tell us what the purpose of this brand new adventure is.

[00:14:49] James Giroux: I've been doing some of this work lately as things have taken off.

But, loftly, I think the vision is to transform the WordPress ecosystem by fostering open people, first workplaces that inspire collaboration innovation, and a thriving global community. What I mean by that is I have had the. Born out of years of experience, privilege of working in a wide variety of teams and a spectrum of team experiences positive, negative, neutral.

I've seen things that work well in some spaces and things that don't work quite so well in others. And sometimes the same approach, having different outcomes depending on the company. And but what I've really seen and noticed is that Because of the nature of WordPress, the fact that we are such a distributed ecosystem and anyone can jump in and create a solution to a problem.

We have a lot of smaller companies that kick up around it. And we have these developer led companies that are born out of solving a user problem. And they get into this situation where they're really good at. Solving problems with code, they're less good at solving problems with people.

And I, anyone who's done agency life would probably be able to tell you agencies would be amazing if we didn't have to work with clients. BEC when you think about it, right? Because the clients, client always has, Changes to your perfect pr things that you create.

And it's the same with people. People are challenging, right? Like we all have bring our stuff to the table and it can be really tricky to navigate that. And and so team wp, when I say team and culture platform, I'm not looking to reinvent. HR operations, how to hire and fire people, although there's a little bit of that, but it's more about what's going on inside your company, being intentional about the culture that you're creating, the ways of working, the way your team operates, and how you talk to each other and how you approach problem solving.

Not just what problems you solve, but how you approach solving those problems and not just on the. The front end, but on the back end, like one of the things that's very interesting to watch is how we do new versions of WordPress. Like we've just at the time of this recording launched WordPress 6.2, I believe.

Yeah. Delphy and I'm curious. To know what kind of what kind of retro retros are happening or retrospective conversations are happening. Do the leads get together and say, Hey, we did this really well, or, do the teams that are working on specific features go, Hey, you know what, we delivered this.

How let's talk about how we delivered it. What did we like about the way that we organized our team meetings? What about the way that we communicated with each other? What about how we identified problems or risks or opportunities or things like that happened throughout the process?

What slowed us down? Like where are those conversations happening? We move really fast, right? And because again, a lot of our companies in WordPress are smaller. We are very fast moving, right? We don't have a lot of the baggage or things. But one of the things that larger companies tend to do maybe a little bit better, is they figured out how to slow the process down enough to take time to ask questions about how they're doing things, not just what they're doing.

So that is really what the crux of team WP is. Can we start to help smaller companies ask the questions about how they're doing it, not just what they're doing. So

[00:19:12] Nathan Wrigley: that raises a few things in my mind. So the first thing that comes into my mind is the bit that you said about you've got a.

Person who is writing code and they've tackled a problem, let's say for example, that's wrapped up in a plugin or something and they've released that plugin and it sells very successfully, and suddenly they've, they just can't manage it. They've gotta bring on support staff, they've gotta bring on people who are good at.

Making videos and promotion and all of that e Essentially what I'm saying is they've had to grow a team and n nobody at the beginning imagined, okay, I've got into this to make a team. So you don't necessarily have that expertise. And sure you could hire that expertise in, but how do you even know the questions to ask the potential candidates?

Because you don't know what it is to have a successful team. And the other thing is there's no overarching authority that you can go to. To look at what that is, because all of these entities are, for want of a better word, commercial rivals or possibly rivals. They're probably gonna keep some of this a little bit close to their chest.

Any groundbreaking development that they've come across, which makes their team work in a better way. Maybe they're gonna share it, but maybe they're gonna keep those cards face down so that nobody can see them. And, just thinking about the system in the uk we have a school system, and the school system is.

Overseen by this organization called Ofsted. Now love them or hate them. A lot of teachers I understand, dislike Ofsted strongly, but the point is there are a bunch of people who have as their remit to go into the schools and say, do you know what? There's a bunch of things that you could do better. We've seen better in other places.

Here's what we think you should do. And the teachers, justifiably probably get quite irate about that. But the point is, there's this overarching. Authority who look at all the schools and make judgements about that and, but there isn't anything like that. And so would I be right in saying Team WP whilst not trying to be top down, you are trying to foster the knowledge of what a good agency, WordPress company, whatever that would be, you are trying to figure out what that is so that you can push that back into the community.

So there's a resource somewhere. That teams, companies, agencies, whatever, can look out and say, okay, this seems to be the way to do this particular thing.

[00:21:43] James Giroux: That's exactly right. I think one of the things I hear a lot from company founders is I didn't get into the, I got into this to create a product.

Not run a team. And that tension we see even in, in some major companies, if you know the story of WP Engine and their, the relationship that their founder has now is the founder is not actually the CEO of the company. He stepped aside and brought somebody else in with that particular skillset and experience to run the people and the company side.

So he could focus on the technology side and do those kinds of things that were more in his wheelhouse. It's a really interesting story, first of humility. But secondly of, understanding that because you're good at one thing doesn't mean you have to be good at all the things. And team WP is exactly that.

It's. Trying to, I talk a lot about, I say the future the future of work is open, right? Meaning that and I have this concept of open teams which you'll hear me talk about a lot if you ever have a conversation with me. But it's this idea exactly as you said, that, like we've.

Got best practices, right? Like HR is a real thing, right? Team and culture is a real thing. And whether we know it or not we are doing it. And there are people within our ecosystem and companies within our ecosystem that have figured some things out or are doing some things well. And it's, we want to elevate those things that, that teams are doing well that can be replicated in other places for a variety of reasons.

But one, because it'll make. WordPress teams better. And when I think of the employee experience for all of our folk, I want them to feel psychologically safe. I want them to be engaged at work. I want them to have a sense of career progression or a pathway that keeps them in WordPress for the duration of their working life.

I want them to be excited about what we're doing in the community. And that all starts with having leaders who are willing to invest time and effort and energy in the making their day-to-day work experience. Amazing.

[00:24:04] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, we've all heard stories about agencies where people went to work there and quickly the whole.

The whole shine just wore off. They walked through the door and quickly realize, oh boy, this is not the place for me. And so I guess having some system in place whereby this knowledge can be shared will be useful in the long run. Going back a decade or more, I dunno if you remember, but everybody wanted to work for Google's.

There was just right this notion that Google was this incredible place to work. You got 10% of your time to work on your own projects. There were bean bags, you got free food, and you get what I'm saying? The, in other words, they'd managed to create this. Impression out in the wider world that it was the best place to work.

And so what happened? The best engineers want to work there. I know the salary probably was commensurate with that as well, but there was this kind of coolness attached to it, and the same would be nice to have in that WordPress space as well, wouldn't it? Wouldn't it be nice if there were a company which was just an inverted commerce?

Cool. Everybody wanted to work there because it was widely known that they did all the things right. You got all of the right benefits, you were treated well. That works in both directions. The employees treat the employer well, the employer treats the employees well, and that information was widespread and understood.

And I guess in your sense, linked back to Team WP, that you were at the bedrock of that.

[00:25:35] James Giroux: That would be great. We'd love to be a catalyst for growth and transformation in WordPress. I think that would be really awesome. The great thing is and. Most, hopefully people will know by the time this airs is we've launched something called the Team Experience Index, which is the first ever employee engagement benchmark survey in the WordPress ecosystem.

So what we're doing, when I say benchmark, what I mean is what we're trying to do is invite anybody who works in WordPress, regardless of whether you're in an agency or a product company or hosting company to. Tell us about your work experience and then create an A mean an average that other companies can look at and compare and contrast their own internal team scores again, in store.

Or maybe even just give them the right questions to be asking themselves. This is one of the things that happens a lot just in the world is often we wanna do something, we wanna make change. We don't even know the right questions to ask to find answers. But if we can help WordPress companies figure out the right questions to ask, even if the answers aren't necessarily positive, it gives them a place to start to make meaningful change.

And when teams are doing that inside themselves, right internally. That will flow out into the WordPress community and the WordPress ecosystem. What you just said about Google, I think is exactly right. Google gave off this energy, this excitement and everyone wanted to work there. And then there was Facebook and YouTube and Instagram and like all these tech places, Spotify, became these places where it was like if you could just have that on your resume even, or your cv, that was meaningful.

And we've not had that same kind of draw in WordPress. But imagine if the culture we created in our distributed environments, in our distributed teams trickled into the way we talked to each other and talked about the project when we got together as a community, and how it influenced the way we interacted with each other.

When we were showing up at local meetups or when we were going to word camps. It would. It would be that, and what's even cooler is it would be that in an open way, because we're open source, we're transparent. We have those values of sharing and of not holding so tightly onto the best that. It would just lift, what is it many,

[00:28:16] Nathan Wrigley: Oh, a rising tide lifts all boats.

[00:28:19] James Giroux: Exactly. A rising tide lifts all boats. And that concept to me is something that I think in the world of team and culture is something that would be really great to see in WordPress.

[00:28:28] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, you've gotta imagine that out there amongst the thousands of workplaces that you could be in WordPress hosting plugin theme.

Who knows? There's a myriad, there's, it's very likely that there's one organization which is. Nailed everything, but there are probably organizations out there which have nailed a good proportion of it. There's probably organizations out there where the opposite is true. They've got several things working well in their organization, but there's, there's definitely room for improvement and sharing that openly is.

It's part it just feels like the WordPress way, if you like, share it openly. It may be that you're in competition with these people, but you're also in a global marketplace. There's room for all of us, I would say. So you've got this survey going on. Like I said, we're in April at the moment.

Do you have any idea how long that survey is gonna be open for people to contribute their data?

[00:29:23] James Giroux: Yeah, we're hoping to keep it open through until word Camp Europe. So the first or second week of June. Yep. I'm trying to encourage as many people as possible to fill it in before the May 6th weekend, the coordination day.

Because that'll give me at least enough data to to build the presentation that I need to build for Work Camp Europe. Cause I will bes presenting the results at Work Camp Europe. Yeah, I'd forgotten that. Yeah. Yeah. By the by the, hasn't technically been announced publicly yet, but by the time this airs it will be public yeah.

Yeah, so that's really exciting. Like even work Camp Europe, like the organizers, like I pitched this talk back in, in January saying, Hey, I'm gonna be launching this thing and I'm gonna be doing this thing. And they got on board. Which is crazy cause I've ne I had never spoken at a Word camp before.

They were the first work camp that ever agreed to have me speak. And it's on this topic, so I think there's an appetite for it.

[00:30:29] Nathan Wrigley: The, there's a very high chance that this podcast will be out before that date. So if that's the case, I'm gonna say go and take the survey. You can find it at the website.

We mentioned team tool up.co. What kind of data are you gathering here? And I guess. I guess some people are gonna have concerns about although things are anonymized, it may be that, if you ask certain questions it would be possible for you at least anyway, to figure out who the person responding is.

Because let's say for example, there's only one director of marketing at such and such a comedy. If you reveal that you are the director of marketing and you are at such and such a company, then we can pretty much figure out who you are. And it may be that you've got fears about anonymity here.

You don't really necessarily write at this point, wanna release all of your the things that, the goofs that lays the golden eggs within your organization. So are you keeping this anonymized? Are you gonna be putting names to data or just broad brushstrokes?

[00:31:30] James Giroux: So the way we're gonna do it is we will not release any individual response.

If you fill in the survey, Th that will get aggregated into the total. So how that will work is yes. I see every entry, obviously and I know some things, but we don't collect a lot of information, personal information either. We ask you to optionally tell us the company that you work for, because that gives us the ability to create maybe a a company profile.

But you don't have to. We ask you the sort of industry that you're in as far as WordPress goes, whether it's hosting or products, or agency life, and we ask you what role you're in. So if you're an individual contributor, if you're a team leader or if you are a senior leader, and that's just.

Helps to move you to some specific questions. So we have a collection of questions that are not designed for senior leaders to fill in. So we get you to, if you're a senior leader, you get to skip over that section and then at the end we ask for some demographic data just to help us with.

Being able to represent the data well. So we ask you about your gender. We ask you about your country and we ask you if you would self-identify as a member of a historically underrepresented group. That's the only information we ask about. Could somebody theoretically combine all of that to figure out who someone is?

Yes. Is it something that anyone will have access to all that information to be able to do on an individualized basis? Absolutely not. Yeah.

[00:33:16] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Okay. So given that a few of those things are you've described broadly the things that you want to know, get into the specifics I noticed that when we click take the survey, we're taken to a different url, we're taken to team experience index.com.

I guess that's one of your properties as well. Is it, or is that. Yes. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. And we're looking at a form. Just tell us, go into a little bit more detail about the kind of questions that you're asking. Obviously you could tell us about every single question, but just give us a flavor of the kind of things that you want to, that you are really drilling into.

[00:33:50] James Giroux: Absolutely. Yeah. So we're really looking at seven or eight different categories of questions. So we ask you to tell us a little bit about the experience of your company. So what's your company outlook? So you as an employee, how do you feel about your products? How do you feel about the direction that your company is going?

We use what are called Likert statements. So that means we give you a statement and we ask you to Tell us how much you agree with that statement. So whether you strongly disagree, are neutral, agree or strongly agree with the statement. So it might be a statement like I think our company is positioned well to succeed in the next five years, or something like that, I think is one of the questions.

And you can decide whether you agree with that, and that helps us understand your confidence level and your company's the vision that your company has presented to you. So if you are a senior leader and you're looking at that and all that people in your organization have maybe disagreed with that statement, right?

It creates an action plan that I can go to you or somebody can present to you and say, Hey, your folks don't agree that, you're positioned well for the next five years. So there's a couple of things that you could possibly do. Number one, Communicate a vision. Have you or asked the question, have you communicated a vision to them?

Do they know what's going on? Are you regularly keeping them up to date on how the company's doing financially? Maybe in all hands. Every once in a while is gonna help give your team that confidence that they need to feel like you've got a plan for the future that they can get onto. It also helps when you com when you add it into another question I see myself working here in the next two years.

Those two questions together give, not just at an individual company level, but within WordPress, gives us a sense of how people feel. So that's where the community insight, I think, becomes really valuable too. So yes, we talk about company outlook, we talk about company leadership. We talk about your team leader.

So if, depending on the size of your team, that might be the same person. We talk about or we ask about teamwork your individual experience. We ask about career progression and career development and what reward and recognition looks like and interspersed throughout all of that. We also ask some questions about diversity, equity, and inclusion to get a sense of how people feel about without asking directly, there's some indirect ways we can identify opportunities for improvement in that space as well.

[00:36:35] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, there's probably, I'm just plucking a number out of thin air. There's probably about 60 questions, but the way the questions are, Maybe that's a bit, maybe that's too many, but there's significantly less than I'm probably thinking about it. But the point is you can probably get this filled out within the next five minutes.

It's not gonna take you long cuz of the way the questions are laid out. Okay? Given that you are gonna consume all this data, you're then gonna package it up and we can all watch that on WordPress tv. How you, what you make of it. You haven't been able to draw any conclusions so far, but I'm curious as to what you want to do, what the roadmap is, if you like, for team WP in the future.

So you've got all this data, you've done your presentation, you've drawn some conclusions. Where do you go now, James, with that what's on the next six months? Year plan for team wp?

[00:37:27] James Giroux: I have a lot of fun things that I want to do. One of the things that I want to do is continue, like what'll be really neat, is to actually be able to create a.

Content and action plans coming out of the data that we get. So if we identify things through the data that are opportunities for improvement within WordPress, we can begin to craft specific training materials or roadmaps for that we can give away for free. If you go to team WP right now, like I've got a guide on a high performing teams just as one example, and there's another one.

For virtual workshops. So like just little resources or tools that people can download to help them, even if they already know some things, maybe there's an opportunity here to improve that experience or take into consideration some things that they might not have considered before. So I wanna do more of that, I think figuring out how to make team WP sustainable is a big deal.

We could go the route of looking for sponsors and things like that, but I think if it can become. Commercially successful, that would be really cool. Obviously consulting is a, is an angle that would, we could take. And what's really cool, the way that I look at it is the team experience index will give a very broad view of the ecosystem, but if a company wants to come in and do a very tailored version for their own team, we can do that as well.

And in fact, we can customize a team experience. Index survey, or an employee engagement survey specific to that team and bring in some of the questions that we have in our benchmark and create an opportunity for them to see how they compare to the ecosystem average, right.

Or the ecosystem benchmark. So if, the general consensus is that people feel like They're gonna be working, they see themselves working at their company in the next two years, and that's a, as an agree or strongly agree in the ecosystem. But for this company in particular, it's maybe a neutral or a disagree, right?

Then we can say yeah, here's the, here's where the industry averages, here's where you sit here. So this is probably an area for you to maybe focus on over the next year as you look at culture for your team. So that's something we can do. I'd love to do that for a fee. But also I want to look at creating awards out of this.

The more we get to know about companies in WordPress, the more we can recognize who's doing well. And this is the thing lots of people get nervous about the negative. Feedback they're going to get. It's not negative, it's opportunities for improvement. I'm a big believer in this idea of continuous improvement or continuous learning, and that only happens when you're willing to confront things that aren't going well.

Any professional athlete. Needs to know the things that they need to improve. And that's why they all have coaches. They all have people that help them, and they, that's why they do time trials. That's why they do these assessed things so that they can figure out opportunities to get better at what they do.

And I think that's the same for companies as well. But being able to recognize those that are doing I think would be really cool. So I'd love to give away awards. My, my dream is to have the The survey opened during War Camp Asia. The results to be announced during War Camp Europe and the awards to be given out during war camp US and make that an annual Yeah.

Cycle name hard because there's different conversations that happen at each stage and it, and there's a ni a nice cadence there for that, but then also create opportunity for certification. Wouldn't it be really cool if companies could Take an assessment or be part of an assessment process that identifies them as a culture, as an open team, what I would call an open team, right?

Where they're invested in culture, they're invested in their people in a way that's actually monitored by a third party. Right and assessed by a third party. So if you're familiar with B Corp certification there's environmental and social responsibility things that make you a B Corp.

But you can't just pay a fee and get that. You have to go through an assessment that is evaluated and score it. And I'd love to see something like that happen for companies because that's how we're going to compete. In the world of work and get better talent, get better, the people that, the young people that are choosing Google for Culture are choosing Spotify for culture.

They're going there when they could be coming into WordPress. And if we're competitive on the culture side and the pay side as well, I think we need to re reflect on that. But if we're, if all things are even, and the difference is whether one team is focused on culture and employee experience and another is not.

People are gonna choose the one that's focused on employee experience and culture. I do

[00:42:41] Nathan Wrigley: like the idea of the certification, just the notion that somebody. Could be out in the marketplace for a new job and they've got a specific set of skills and they draw up a short list of four or five companies and they notice that a couple of them have got the accreditation that you are mentioning.

Could definitely be a signal, couldn't it? As to which places you're gonna put more effort into applying for, if you've seen that there is this certified, trusted organization, in this case, team WP that's gone in. Check things out, made sure that things are as they are, and obviously that would then need to be reengaged with, I don't know, every year, every couple of years or something like that to make sure that the culture and the company hadn't changed too much.

But I, yeah, I think that's really interesting. You mentioned they're working for, Google and what have you, and in a conversation that we had prior to clicking record, we talked very briefly about the demographic, particularly the age demographic of the WordPress ecosystem. And I do sh let's just put it this way.

You expressed concern that potentially. The demographic is getting older because the young people are not coming into WordPress. And I wonder if this plays into any of the things that you are gonna be dealing with is, firstly, have I represented what you said correctly? Does it seem like WordPress is getting older and do you hope to tackle that with team WP encourages more young people to come into to WordPress instead of, I dunno, Facebook meta, Google, TikTok, whatever it may be.

[00:44:20] James Giroux: Absolutely. It's, like I, I just think about the world that I grew up in 20 years ago. When I was 20, so 20, I'm 40 this year 20 years ago I was 20. WordPress is now 20. So in those 20 years I have built friendships. I've worked for companies I've, been able to.

Build a family, right? And build a future. And yet when I look at the ecosystem, I don't see people coming in behind me the same way. We're not it's like anything you get comfortable with, the people that you know, you get comfortable with, the community that you have, and that circle closes.

And we've gotta figure out how to open that circle back up and keep it open so that there's always space for somebody else to come in. And part of how we do that, Is making sure that we've got pathways for young people to come into the ecosystem and we can do it in their teen years and we can expose them to the product.

But I'm not talking necessarily about exposing them to the product. I'm talking about exposing them to the culture, exposing them to the community because people go to where they feel connected. And that is one of the bits of secret sauce that has made WordPress capable of lasting. Is the community that exists here, right?

You can, you come in maybe through the product, but you stay because of the community that develops around you and that, that has developed around WordPress. And we've gotta figure out how to do that for the next generation that's coming in. I don't have all the answers to that, but I definitely think that.

That excitement, that energy, that enthusiasm, that ju Davi that we had when we were 20. Maybe we're getting a little bit older and tired and we need to find those new voices or tho those new ways to communicate what it means to be WordPress to younger people.

[00:46:32] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Thank you. That has been really interesting conversation.

Like I said, at the top of the show, team wp.co is the url. If anything that James has said has resonated with you, James, what's the best place to contact you? There is a contact form on the website I can see. But are you online? Do you do social?

[00:46:51] James Giroux: I am very active on Twitter and my dms are open, so you can slide right in if you'd like.

Sounds so weird to say. Yes, you can. It's just at James Rou pretty much everywhere online. Is that, but Twitter is the primary place. I'm being social and active. I blog james drew.ca is another spot you can catch me. But for anything related to Team WP, just go to team wp.co.

Hang out, love to hang out with people who want to have these kinds of conversations. I'm thriving in it because as I've put myself out there and started talking about this, people are coming out of the woodwork who share similar passions and see the kind, same kind of things. Oh, it's just fun.

I'm having conversations with people that I never thought I'd have conversations with. And the energy and the excitement and the enthusiasm around this stuff is so great. James, and also so good. Yeah. Fill in the survey if you haven't yet. Product, company, hosting, company agency. Even if your company is small, like 2, 3, 4, fill it in because your story matters.

Your story helps to contribute to what we want to do in WordPress in the future.

[00:48:07] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, that's a, that's lovely. Thank you for joining me on the podcast today. I really appreciate it. I'll put the links that we mentioned there into the show notes, so you can go and check that out on the WP Builds.com website, but it just remains for me today.

James Drew, thank you very much for joining me today. Really appreciate it. Thanks for having me. I hope that you enjoyed that. Very nice chatting today with James Rou all about Team wp. If you are employed by an agency, perhaps you have some thoughts on this, please do go and fill out the survey. The links are in the show notes, but also if you want to make some commentary about it on the WP Builds.com website, you can certainly do that. My suggestion would be go there, search for episode number 326 and leave as a comment. We'd really appreciate it.

The WP Builds podcast is brought to you today by GoDaddy Pro. GoDaddy Pro the home of managed WordPress hosting that includes free domain ssl, and 24 7 support. Bundle that with The Hub by GoDaddy Pro to unlock more free benefits to manage multiple sites in one place, invoice clients, and get 30% off new purchases. You can find out more by heading to go.me/wpbuilds. And once again, sincere thanks to GoDaddy Pro for their ongoing support of the WP Builds podcast.

Okay. Like I said, at the top of the show, we'll be back next Monday for the this week weekend WordPress show. You can join us there live at WP Builds.com/live. We will also have a live show on Wednesday, part three of the WS form webinar series. This is turning out to be really interesting. If you like using forms, this is certainly worth checking out. And then of course, we'll have our podcast episode. On Thursday. Perhaps you can join us for some of that. If not, no worries.

Stay safe. Have a good week. Bye-bye for now.

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Nathan Wrigley
Nathan Wrigley

Nathan writes posts and creates audio about WordPress on WP Builds and WP Tavern. He can also be found in the WP Builds Facebook group, and on Mastodon at wpbuilds.social. Feel free to donate to WP Builds to keep the lights on as well!

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