Tech Culture Club: Viably’s Karen Clark Recommends Having Tough Talks Early

On this week’s episode of Tech Culture Club sponsored by Vaco, Viably’s Chief People Officer Karen Clark divulged a wealth of advice for the HR manager in any growing organization. 

As the Chief People Officer of Raleigh-based Viably, Clark looks after the personal and professional wellbeing of around 30 employees. Viably is a fintech startup that views itself as the small or medium-sized business’s version of Mint: an all-in-one free financial tool for companies to run and grow their businesses. 

Clark joined the Viably team in January but had plenty of history with Viably’s founder Doron Gordon, as the two worked together at Samanage, a startup Gordon also founded that was acquired by SolarWinds in 2019.

Here are some highlights from the episode:

  • At many companies where a large amount of the team has worked together in the past, it can be difficult for a new employee to come in and feel valued. Clark discussed how Viably avoids that. It comes down to valuing diversity of thought in a company. After all, everyone is there for a reason, so you need to ask new employees what they think and, above all, don’t hire jerks/know-it-alls, Clark said. (6:20)
  • Clark and show host Melissa Phillippi—the CEO of WorkDove—discussed the benefits of pay-for-performance while tying performance and values together. If employees achieve their goals in a way that aligns with a company’s values and core beliefs, that’s when it should lead to a pay increase, Clark said. It can get complicated to get objective about something as inherently subjective like employee behavior and contributions to company culture, so how do you approach this? (14:02)
  • A key failing for many managers lies in their inability to have crucial conversations about performance dissatisfaction with employees early on. Clark believes it’s important to talk about something not going well when it starts, so employees have a chance to fix it. In order to foster this skill, Clark said you need to provide training in small, digestible chunks instead of a one-time training session. Clark compares it to playing the piano: managers will never get better at this skill unless they practice. (19:09)

Listen to the full episode below, and don’t forget to subscribe. Thanks again to our sponsor, Vaco!

About Suzanne Blake 275 Articles
Suzanne profiles startups and innovation for GrepBeat. Before working at GrepBeat, Suzanne attended UNC Chapel Hill, obtaining a degree in journalism and political science. Previously, she wrote for CNBC, QSR Magazine, FSR Magazine and The Daily Tar Heel.