On January 27, 2016, Sue hosted Ragini Parmar, VP of Talent Operations, at Credit Karma. Credit Karma has set out to disrupt consumer finance and as a disruptive business experiencing hyper growth, they consider their culture fundamental to their success. Credit Karma’s culture is not built around free lunches, but common principles that act as their compass, and is a foundation of how they want people to work together.
Scaling their culture is as important to Credit Karma as scaling their business, and to that end, Ragini talked about their collaborative hiring process. This innovative process helps them avoid bad hiring choices that could change the internal culture instantaneously. Ragini shared why their culture is key to their success, how they structure the interview and debrief process, and how they involve employees.
“You have to trust that you have smart people at the table who are invested and want to make a difference. If you don’t trust that, then there’s probably something broken there.”
Credit Karma’s disruption as a company is focused on recreating the finance industry around people. The company wants to put the credit industry into the hands of the people by giving them free and comprehensive access to their financial data and empowering them to manage personal finances and make financial decisions. Internally, they mirror this disruptive philosophy by placing all decisions around corporate culture in the hands of employees.
When asked how a culture built by employee-driven decisions is a disruptor in their industry, Ragini spoke about the importance of trusting the employees. Because Credit Karma is growing so fast, if hiring or retention decisions were left to top management , they might be disconnected from employees because there are so many new voices at the table. Ragini commented on the richness of qualitative data that employees can offer, which can be overlooked if decisions are made solely based on quantitative data. Because culture is an abstract concept, it can be hard to define culture fit, and finding that trust in employees can be hard. But, Ragini said at some point they had to trust their hiring practice, that they were bringing on the right people who have an innate responsibility to want to take care of the culture.
One way Credit Karma involves employees in the culture decisions is through a collaborative hiring process. The company currently has more than 100 people on their interview team; any of those people can get pulled to interview at different stages of the process, depending on their experience and the position. Each interviewer has a different responsibility and at the end of the interview process, a discussion brings together all the perspectives. They decided in the beginning that they would always be collaborative in their hiring decisions. Even if a hiring manager says they want someone on the team but the team members who were part of the interview process say no, they will not override this. The benefit is employees select who they want to work with, leading to an investment in that person’s growth with the company and better retention.
What we found most interesting:
When Sue asked how they balance finding people that fit the culture with diversity, Ragini said, “You have to trust the values you have (as a company). Our cultural values are our guiding compass. They tell us how we’re supposed to do the work, how to collaborate and how to get the work done in an efficient way, and keep us all moving in same direction. If you really believe and embody those values, then you’re looking for people who naturally would be able to step into Credit Karma and embody those values as well. They could come from all different types of experiences and walks of life. It’s really about looking at that.”
For more insights on Ragini’s chat, listen to the WiseTalk recording.