On the cusp of our 10th year, Made by Many is more human than ever. A wonderful collection of misfits, eccentrics and oddballs is what makes us the company we are and in part what enables us to be an empathic bunch. Possibly the single thing that most defines us is how human we are in all that we do.

Just as we’re always looking to understand our clients and their customers on an essential level, as a collection of humans working together, we are constantly seeking ways to make this an even better place to work.

To do this, 2016 has seen us make numerous changes to our people processes and policies, so here’s a run-down of what we’ve been up to this year, and where we plan to focus our efforts in 2017.

Rolling out new paternity and maternity policies

2016: Made by Many is multiplying and this year we’ve welcomed two more babies to the fold, with two more due in the next couple of months. It’s unthinkable in the 21st century that statutory requirements are still stuck in the 1950s, imagining that fathers’ involvement is limited to a polite smoke outside the delivery room and taking no part in caring for their child. Happily, we at Made by Many have updated our paternity leave to represent the reality we see amongst our own and in the wider world. With four weeks’ paternity leave (versus the statutory 1–2) and 19 weeks’ additional maternity pay, we’re proud to say that our policies go way further than the industry standard.

2017: Coming back to work after a baby is a big moment in people’s lives, so we’ll be looking at how we can do even more to support new parents when they return to work. Of course, these efforts will also benefit anyone returning after an extended period of leave for reasons other than parenthood, as well as part-time workers.

Continue to champion flexibility

2016–17: Made by Many employees are responsible adults who take pride in their work, so we don’t believe in clock-watching or nickel and diming people for hours. Impact is how we prefer to evaluate an employee’s contribution to the company. This means that anyone with caring responsibilities, whether for a child or another family member, can request flexible working hours that will enable them to stay on an even keel with work and life.

Reaching out to a broader community

2016: This year we’ve tried posting on recruitment sites that promote diversity, but haven’t seen an increase in diverse candidates coming to our door. This is the single biggest challenge we have when it comes to hiring: getting the Made by Many name out to a broader community that represents wider range of backgrounds and experience. So we need to change up our tactics in the New Year.

Front End London (our event for front end developers) and CodeBar (weekly programming workshops for underrepresented groups) are two ways in which we currently support a more diverse tech community. FEL sells out on the day that we release tickets, but we always reserve a few tickets for underrepresented groups.

2017: When we’re hiring, we want to get to a place where it’s possible for us to have at least one person of colour on our shortlists. One of the Made by Many alumni, Anjali Ramachandran has given us some top advice on how to achieve this, via targeted individual outreach and engaging with specific organisations.

Improving our hiring process

2016–17: In the past six months we’ve put a lot of work into greater rigour around the interview and selection process, from the language of our job ads to questions we ask at interview, the candidate tasks we set and our overarching assessment criteria. Knowing that the health and wealth of the company is intrinsically bound up with the people who work here, we want to bring in more folks who are as motivated as the rest of us to do the best work of their careers, who are excited to learn and collaborate with colleagues and clients alike. Our revised processes better equip us to understand which candidates have what it takes to succeed at Made by Many.

Improving how we give feedback

2016: Knowing how to give good feedback is something that most people have to learn to do and work hard at continually improving — it’s not something taught in schools or higher education. This year, we’ve put a lot of effort into building up a more regular feedback culture, coaching The Many in different techniques. We’re making sure that feedback is balanced, given directly to the person within as close a timeframe to the event as possible, that it’s as specific as possible with plenty of context and most importantly, that it’s constructive.

2017: A healthy feedback culture is an ongoing effort, a machine that needs constant tuning and occasional overhaul — we’ll continue to try new techniques around feedback, including an experiment with software-enabled real-time feedback (in a company as small as ours, this might feel weird, but we want to see if it works for our teams).

Fostering grassroots access to opportunity

2016: On the whole, our combined industry of design, technology and strategy (in the UK at least) sees fewer women and people of colour entering the talent pool — a situation that won’t be fixed overnight. So, we’re interested in doing what we can to create capabilities in young people who are interested in pursuing careers in our field. This year, we’ve worked with a number of programmes including School of Logical Progression’s ‘Meet a Mentor’, Next Tech Girls, Codebar, Creativity Works and of course our own summer internship programme.

2017: Continuing our collaboration with outreach programmes is core to our ambitions for the New Year, but we’ll also revise our internship programme for example with regards to the selection criteria; diversity will be a more active deciding factor next time around. (Note: Google shared their experiences of hiring the best candidates and the resultant performance of teams.)

Engendering a learning culture

2016: This year we’ve started experimenting with mob programming, increased cross-team knowledge transfer, sharing outcomes and generally geared ourselves up to be amore finely attuned Learning Organisation. Individual learning goals are set at shorter intervals than before, tied more closely to projects and broader business objectives. We’ve baked this into our day to day process to make it part and parcel of how we operate.

2017: Individual and team learning will remain at the heart of all we do, in a supportive, honest and open environment that best facilitates learning. By making people feel comfortable to share uncertainties, we are giving each other the opportunities to learn and teach in turns, which wonderfully builds the confidence of everyone.

The robots haven’t taken over yet, so here’s to 2017 and the growth of the empathic power of The Many (that’s everyone).

Thanks to Melissa for contributions to this post and an indefatigable dedication to driving diversity at Made by Many forward.

Charlotte Hillenbrand

Charlotte Hillenbrand

Charlotte heads up Learning and Development at Made by Many. She is interested in Learning Organisations and the role they play in digital transformation, growing talent and happiness at work. She's responsible for delivering our Professional Development programme and learning initiatives.

With a digital career as old as Youtube, Charlotte has worked with clients from the media, entertainment, culture, sport, automotive, FMCG and charity sectors. Previously, she worked in book publishing and the business behind product design and repackaging.

In real life, she bears no resemblance to Charles II but she does have big hair.

@crashtherocks

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