Wendy Hanson 0:24
Welcome, everybody. So happy to have you here at BetterManager. We talked to many companies that are trying to build leadership frameworks and programs for all their leaders and managers. We are fortunate today to talk with David Evans, who has graciously agreed to share the process. He is doing it amplitude, and he'll tell you more about that company. So let me tell you about David. David Evans designs, playful experiences and equitable processes that challenge and grow people. David has coached tech leaders and their teams for over 15 years, from Baby startups to Fortune one hundreds through capital raisings, m&a, transactions and public listings. Prior to becoming a coach, David was founder and CEO of two tech companies, which resulted in one exit and a nine figure acquisition deal that went south. Life's an adventure. David is currently the head of talent experience at amplitude, supporting the growth of high performing teams, and scaling company culture as the business scales. David's biggest and most important growth challenge so far, and many of you will probably relate to this is co parenting to young kids. So David, welcome, you are creative, I can certainly speak to that.
David Evans 1:44
Thank you, Wendy. I'm so happy to be here talking with you today. Thanks for the opportunity to come talk about leadership. Yes, our favorite subject, right, we have to look at it in many different ways. And, and we're talking to so many companies now, David, that are trying to, like newer companies, like you have worked with startups who are like, wow, we need frameworks, we need things. So I really thought that your your wisdom and experience on this would give some people ideas, because we know on this podcast, we want people to leave and take action. We don't want them to just listen, we want them to leave and say, Ah, that's something that I could do. So that will be great. So let's start off generally, like what's important to amplitude about having its own leadership framework? How did that all come to be? Great question. So they're just a little context. So we're now over 700 employees. And we went public in September, last year, when I joined the company three and a half years ago, we were, I think, 170 employees. And so I think the first part of needing some sort of framework is just the scale that the company is at now. So, you know, when I first joined, the culture really grew and was distributed from person to person. And we were very much like, HQ, in person centric company. So it was easy for people to see, oh, you know, this is what great leadership looks like, it happens to because I know the CEO, the CFO, the CFO, et cetera, et cetera. So I know what they expect from from good leadership. And now and I think the pandemic really accelerated this,
you know, we went from being this in person HQ centric culture of a company of around 300 People at the start of the pandemic, to now over 700 people, the majority of amplia tears, which is what we call our team members are not in HQ. So even as we start to return to site, and, you know, move towards our new hybrid future, we can't get that for free anymore, like people can't, you know, distribute culture, in a sense from, you know, human to human in, in real time in person. So, yeah, the pandemic was, was really like six months in, we realized we're not going back to the way it was. And, you know, we need to start embedding our culture into all the systems and processes that an apple tear meets from the moment they get hired, you know, through to their entire employee lifecycle, and really, leadership is at the center of that. So it leaders show the way, you know, leaders are followed, leaders set the tone for how people show up, and that's really why it's important to have our own leadership framework.
Wendy Hanson 4:54
Yeah. And I remember meeting with you pre COVID in San Francisco and always being He impressed with how you were really building the culture, like having people meet other people, you had a whole system for that to go up lunch and have coffee. And I thought that was so brilliant. And now you've had to look at that and say, how do we recreate something like that in a, in this new world that we're in?
David Evans 5:20
Yeah, every week, we used to, you know, have a cross functional lunch. So cross team lunch, we call it on Friday, in person, go to a restaurant with, you know, half a dozen or so other folks from other functions. And then you know, we'd have like, random coffee buddy pairings, and we'd meet in person, and of course, we across him lunch really doesn't work too well, virtual. But the coffee Buddies is still good, it doesn't involve going to get coffee. And you know, we're still making these sort of personal connections aren't having unstructured time together. So that's been an important part of maintaining personal connections and creating personal connections with new folks and, you know, hearing things that you wouldn't normally hear perspectives that you wouldn't hear in your day to day from the people who you normally work and CO create collaborate with?
Wendy Hanson 6:18
Yeah. So how is the leadership framework? You know, you've you built it from the ground up, you know, how is it working now? And tell us a little bit about what that framework looks like? And and what are the, what do you want to get out of it? What are some of the expected outcomes for the company? Why it's so important?
David Evans 6:37
Great, great question. So where are we today, it's still very early on. So we're still in the process of of rolling it out. So at the moment, the way we're using the framework is for growing people. So what we had three main goals for the framework. One was that we it was something that we could all align around as leaders. So you know, we're all bought in 100%, this is representative of our culture now, and representative of where we need our culture to go as we scale the business to a billion in ARR. And beyond. So that was that was number one, aligned, number two was measurable. So amplitude, helps companies build better products through data were data driven in our decision making. So we wanted to make sure that it was it was measurable. And so we based the competencies on a company's competency set, that was it, there was a lot of data around demonstrating the efficacy of that that competency set. And I know BetterManager uses the competencies from Google. So it's an example of, of a data set data backed leadership framework. And then thirdly, we wanted it also to be a framework for growing people. So, you know, there's sort of no point in having these kind of abstract concepts about leadership if they're not actionable. And that was one of the big insights in developing the framework, you know, we started out with these kinds of abstract nouns, like service and things like that, and, and they've been totally transformed into, like, active, you know, phrases like, walk our talk, and, you know, disagree and commit, and things like that. So it's actual actions that, that people can take and behaviors that that we can grow. And so, so far, that's been the focus of the framework. We've been using it in our leadership development programs. So we have three key programs at the moment, one for individual contributors, one for folks who have recently been promoted to a people manager position. And then our newest program, which we've collaborated with you on that BetterManager is our senior leadership development program, which is about helping folks grow from senior manager to the director level. So So where are we going with that? We're going to embed the leadership framework into all of our key processes. So starting with hiring, you know, how do we know we're hiring someone who meets both our cultural expectations and expectations for the scope of the level that we're hiring for that the moment you know, as I said, it's all being you know, person to person, you know, sort of verbal communication what is great look like so, it was setting expectations for like, what is a first line manager look like across the entire car? company, for example, or what does a VP look like at the other end. Then secondly, like performance management, so, you know, promoting people again, so we hold calibration sessions, promotion calibration sessions, each six months, which is great again, you get that kind of person to person calibration of, of folks across a level. And as we scale, we're no longer able to have all of the potential promotions for management level all being discussed in the same room at the same time. So this will, again, set the expectations set the bar for the particular level, and therefore that's going to have knock on effects to compensation and, you know, basically, everything that's important to employees, it's, you know, this, this leadership framework is going to drive decisions that we're making around talent, that amplitude,
Wendy Hanson 11:09
and I love, I love what I'm hearing is that the approach is very pragmatic, like even your sometimes you hear leadership, you know, they six up pillars, and they're so kind of esoteric, you know, you can't make sense. You can see yours, you say walk your talk or do something else. They're very verb oriented, so people out that's what it looks like, that's what they want. And love that.
David Evans 11:33
Yeah, exactly. You know, our values are such a core part of how we show up and amplitude they're really like, and the one that really stands out, and I think differentiates amplitude from a lot of other technology startups is our humility, value. And, and so, you know, what is human humility, it's, like, kinda abstract, and like a pretty, you know, high sort of value to hold and like, what what does that actually mean, as a leader to come with you humility. And so, you know, as an example, we said, leaders that come with humility, stay open, so they remain resourced and centered and self aware, under stress, curious and open to diverse points of view. And then, you know, leaders who are humble also build trust, so they demonstrate empathy and care, they're transparent and create create an inclusive environment for for all groups. So, you know, yeah, things that people can follow. Oh, like, that's, that's what I'm supposed to do as a leader here. At amplitude and, yeah, and that drives, you know, di goals as well.
Wendy Hanson 12:47
I love that, too. Because when you when you look at those, you're really able to then answer the question of is, is my leader humble, you know, it becomes very, very clear, because there are things that you can see. And that is humility is a very big thing that we don't have enough of. And that really strikes me as, as really an important piece of the culture. What are some of the other values that are so important to you at amplitude?
David Evans 13:14
Yeah, so So humility, everything starts with humility, so seeking to understand others, and you're not coming with a big ego, then the second core value is ownership. So once we have that understanding of the different perspectives, then we can take ownership and service of the whole company and our, our stakeholders, our customers. And then our third core value is is growth mindset. So you'll be familiar with that. We have like a particular flavor of growth mindset that includes tenacity and seeking input. So once we've acted in service of the hole, then we seek feedback, we seek data to determine our impact, because without seeking that input that data, then we don't know whether we've had the input that the impact we've intended to have as a leader.
Wendy Hanson 14:11
You just mentioned stakeholders. Tell me about the core this the key stakeholders in this project.
David Evans 14:18
Yeah, so Spencer skates our CEO, is you know, he's always been a culture champion. And you know, really the the whole leadership framework comes from it comes from Him. So starting with humility and staying open to other perspectives. I think that's good, especially for, you know, a young I'm gonna say a young man who's like been so successful in his business. That's what really stands out to me. So Spencer, our CEO. We've had like really a core group of seeing Yeah, leaders, so both executives and director level folks who have been involved in CO creating the framework. And then input from Jeffrey, one of the other founders. So those folks have been the key partners in in CO creating this framework. And interestingly enough, and I think we have, this is something else that I love about amplitude, our engineering team is it's a very emotionally intelligent engineering team. And, you know, as I'm sure you've seen before, that isn't always the case. But our engineering team and this this process, we actually modelled on a process that fascia Ross done a body who's a senior director of, of infrastructure engineering, at amplitude, he brought this process from Amazon from his time at AWS, and started introducing it to engineering. So, you know, we worked alongside he and myself and Charlotte burns, one of our HRBPs, the HRBPs, are also a key stakeholder to to develop behavioral expectations and competencies for engineering. And then we took the same process and leveraged it for developing our leadership framework.
Wendy Hanson 16:35
That's great. And I think, really finding emotionally intelligent engineers who love their work and can manage teams is really a one, you know, an amazing thing, because it's not always the way they think, you know, they want to solve something. How do you make sure and this probably too big a question, but in your hiring process, that you is there any way that you can kind of make sure that you have good judgments on that, for somebody to be able to bring that kind of engineer into your organization?
David Evans 17:06
Yes, well, as it happens, the engineers have engineered a process to do. So. At each level, they have their behavioral expectations. And then for each level, they have both positive, negative, and then then sort of over the top positive signal. So so there's kind of like this sweet spot of of each behavior. And then as, as the interview process continues to the scorecards get filled on each of those signals. So did I see that? Yes? Did I see that? Yes. So we're looking for, like, the positive signals, and then also the negative signals on on either side, so over indexing on that behavior or not, you know, demonstrating the opposite of that, that behavior? And so then you end up with this kind of grid with this scorecard where the engineers can see, okay, yes, this candidate met our cultural expectations.
Wendy Hanson 18:19
And I love we all know that if somebody helps build the process, they really want to support it. And so it's brilliant that the engineers were involved in building that process, so that then you've got their buy in, and the people that are coming in, and it's so clear, whether you have it or you don't have it. Yeah. As as you've gone through all these changes, and, and really, it's, you're, you're up to some big changes now, when you're not when you're looking at, you know, being remote all the time and not going back to the office. So David, tell me about an actual competency that you have that really has helped you be able to deal and manage change that you're going through in the organization.
David Evans 19:05
Great question. When do we actually have a competency, which is inspire the future. And the definition of that is communicate a clear purpose and vision, influencing change innovating in the face of uncertainty. So there's an expectation at amplitude that even in the face of the unknown, we act, because if you don't do something, then you get no feedback and you need the feedback. So it's, it's really about just doing something and you know, often that something isn't fantastic the first time you do it, and you get a lot of information. So you get a lot of data back about what was wrong with with what you did and and so that's like seeking the input right to grow and learn and change. And then we iterate. So it's it's very much, very much the way that we teach companies how to build better products, which is our company's mission. That's how we operate internally as well. So with that lean, build, measure, learn. process.
Wendy Hanson 20:20
Yeah, I love to do something. Yes. And then we can evaluate it. We can make mistakes, but we're gonna evaluate it, but don't just do nothing. Yes, yeah. Simple, but not easy. Yeah. What's been what's been some of the biggest challenges as you stand up, you know, coming into this role three and a half years ago, and where you are now, and you're at the cusp of of more change going forward? What's been the biggest challenges there, either for you personally, or for the organization?
David Evans 20:50
Great question. So, you know, I would say the biggest challenge for me personally, when I first joined, I literally, I remember being at a company kickoff, and I knew we'd probably turn 50 people at the time, I knew every single person's name. And so we could really get things done, like, person to person. And then of course, that that doesn't last much beyond, you know, even 250 years, probably too many people to do that. And, and so, early on, we all had direct close relationships with all of the C suite that the LT as, as we call them. And so the answer is probably a bit of a universal challenge to like, how do you get alignment from a group of senior executives who you don't, you don't know. And again, I go back to this innovating in the face of uncertainty piece. And the way that so long is I'm reporting to the CFO at the moment, as we're engaged in in a Chief People Officer search, and, you know, he hears advice, and I think it's great advice, is just keep innovating, like just, you know, create a bunch of different features, and test them. And, you know, if, if the CEO doesn't like one of them, he's going to tell you. So, you know, I think that's really good advice. Because, you know, especially when we were going through our public listing, of course, Spencer, and the rest of the LT are focused on going public and everything that that entails. And we had to keep, you know, we couldn't stop running. So, yeah, we just had to keep pushing things out, keep innovating. And then, you know, when they didn't like something, it made sure that we had that feedback channel open. And we were hearing that and pivoting. Again, I would say the other is related, but it's harder to understand the different functional needs now. So again, just, we used to all be in the office together, I would sit next to like the VP of sales or whatever, at lunch, we would chat. And, you know, be easy to understand the needs of, of each of the functions just by hanging out with the leaders. And it's very different now. And at scale, the HRBPs are such an important part of everything that we do in talent experience, because they're so close to the business. So both that the, at the beginning of a program or a project, getting their input, having them kind of be like market research, you know, because they're so close to the customer. And then they're also critical, critical in the distribution, the marketing and sales of whatever we produce. So that's been a big, big learning is just to, to instead of necessarily being able to collaborate easily with all the leaders to collaborate with, with EHR BPS who are working closely with the leaders. And then, I think probably the other challenge is just and I'm sure you experienced this at a BetterManager too, as you're scaling rapidly, there is just always so much to do, like everyone just always has so much to do so. So both from, you know, bandwidth, our team's bandwidth and then our customers our internal clients ability to consume their, their bandwidth. That's, that's a massive challenge. And so, you know, focus again, you know, one out of CFO you know, his advice is always don't, don't ever focus on more than three things and it's advice I've had before For it's, it's great advice because, you know, a, you're not going to be able to deliver at, you know, high quality. If you're focusing on more than three things and be the organization, especially when we're moving at the speed we're moving and people are so busy, you know, they're not going to be able to consume any more than three things, either. So yeah, I mean, those are the challenges that stand out to me.
Wendy Hanson 25:27
Yeah. I love that. And isn't that ancient wisdom about the three? There's a magical number about the three I love that, like, don't you're not going to be able to accomplish more than three? It's you can hold three, you can't hold 10 or 12? You know? That is brilliant. Yes. And I think it's tried and true, because I think it's been around for a long time.
David Evans 25:50
Dale, it was a de la Sol that had the early 90s, or late 80s. Hip Hop, hit three is the magic number. As a good song,
Wendy Hanson 26:02
yes. Okay. Well, maybe at the end, we'll have you sing a tune of that? Well, I have to say, David, that I am so proud of our partnership with BetterManager. And amplitude, it has been an honor to be able to work with you. And maybe you can say a little bit about like, what what has having an outside partner be able to provide some resources for you? How has that helped in looking at these leadership frameworks and building your team?
David Evans 26:32
Great question. I mean, so if I, if I start from the personal, so I have a BetterManager coach, and I'm, I'm an experienced coach myself, and so, you know, my expectations for the quality of coaching. Hi, and I know that BetterManager sets a high bar for its coaches. So, you know, having a BetterManager coach, throughout the period has been invaluable in, you know, when I got, especially when I got stuck, you know, when things got really busy around the public listing, and, you know, when I had challenges getting alignment or getting attention, it was huge to have a coach to, to, like, talk through that with and to, you know, have a sounding board. And then you know, also to get advice from as well. So I love, I love the way BetterManager coaches bring in best practices, as well, and they're all experienced in business. And so that's like, from a personal perspective, then from a developing leaders perspective, we partnered with you on our senior leadership development program, which is based in in our leadership framework. And it's been amazing having coaches who understand our values and competencies and understand the way that we're measuring those be able to coach those leaders one on one, as well as in a group coaching session sessions, helping them to grow and develop into successful director level leaders at amplitude, who are really, you know, owning their business and taking care of the people within, you know, their function. Yeah, it's just been absolutely invaluable. From the design to the delivery and execution of, of that program.
Wendy Hanson 28:38
That's great. Yeah. Partnerships are so important, because we can't do everything ourselves. And you have to find the right partner, that that shares your values. And certainly, we know that that's a important part of why our relationship has been so successful. And we continue to, we continue to learn from you and and then can grow ourselves and our coaches in that way. So, you know, as we're all in this new world, of being hybrid remote, where we're able to learn more best practices that we learned from each other, because we always believe that that group, coaching piece when people can share ideas together, it's like one and one is three, you know, you can really make things happen. There's the three again.
David Evans 29:27
Yeah, that's been huge, Wendy. So, just the the sense of connection and I'm not alone, and we're doing this together. That you know, for a lot of those folks, you know, they that they felt they lost that a little bit when we were when we were remote and throughout the pandemic and yeah, so the group coaching is huge and totally agree with you on the alignment I just saw appreciate BetterManager its mission and its focus on like taking care people. I mean, this is leaders have such a massive impact on the people who they, they lead. And I know that's so important to BetterManager. And so important to me so important to Spencer, our, our CEO, you know, having people have a great experience at work, you know, workplace that they can
Wendy Hanson 30:21
thrive in? Yeah, yeah. Well, we will continue to build our partnership and, and see how else we can collaborate together. And I'm so grateful to you to share this wisdom today. Is there anything? Is there any last word you want to share with people at all? Like, anything you want people to walk away and say, Huh, yeah,
David Evans 30:45
great question. I mean, I always say that taking care of people is taking care of business. I mean, especially in, in tech, and tech, I mean, that intellectual property, your people are our, you know, who create all of the value. And so yeah, you got to take care of them, because that by proxy, takes care of your business's success.
Wendy Hanson 31:15
Yeah. And your values, certainly speak to that. So I'm holding on to that one, taking care of people is taking care of the business. Yes. And, and the focus is in the right place. You know, I've, I've talked to too many companies where the focus is like, we got to be productive here. You know, what we have to be caring and engaging and appreciate people for what their strengths are, and bring to the table and help them grow. And I, I see that so much happen at amplitude. So
David Evans 31:43
yeah, and that's how we will be more productive, productive together.
Wendy Hanson 31:48
Yeah. If people want to get in touch with you and, and get a little more taste of your wisdom or learn more about amplitude, what's the best place for them to look, David,
David Evans 31:59
you can reach out to me on on LinkedIn. So if you just search for David Evans, amplitude, you'll find me. You know, I jumped off social media quite a few years back now because I felt like I needed to create space. So apart from LinkedIn, I'm not really don't really have a social media presence. In fact, feel free to email me as well. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wendy Hanson 32:28
Great, great. Yes, if anybody has questions, specific things because we want you to take from this some action and and talk to a man with a lot of humility. And I think that's a very lovely combination. So thank you all for joining us today. Thank you, David, so much, and have a wonderful day everybody and make a difference in the world needed so much now.
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