Casual Connect 2012: Live-blogging Zynga’s lecture on hiring and retaining talent

We’re at Casual Connect and waiting for Zynga’s 3 PM lecture on how to hire and retain talent in the competitive social games industry.

The lecture is being given by Chief People Officer Colleen McCreary.

3:00 PM – Chris Early of Ubisoft just took the stage and is introducting Colleen.

3:01 PM – McCreary just took the stage. She’s been with the company for just over three-and-a-half years.

3:02 PM — McCreary is sharing a growth chart of Zynga: In January 2008, the company only had 11 employees. Today they have 2,846 employees with over 40 percent devoted to engineering. The company also has over 20 locations world wide.

3:05 PM — McCreary says one of Zynga’s advantages is that it operates in a studio model that allows people to work on different products and not get bored working on just one thing at a time. She says a piece of advice she received (and believes in) is that a company should spend at least 20 percent of its time focusing on its people/talent. She also says a lot of companies out there talk about how talent is their most important asset, but then they don’t focus on their people.

3:07 PM — What makes Zynga Special? McCreary says it’s the company’s core values. These include “Build games you and your friends love to play,” “surprise and delight our players” and “Zynga First” (making decisions for the greater good).

3:12 PM — Something that Zynga does is create job architectures to help people plan out their career path within the company. This is something McCreary feels many companies aren’t doing with the current workforce coming out of college.

3:17 PM — McCreary is addressing the “Zynga First” rule. She says this can best be summed up by staff asking themselves, “How can I step up and help the company?”

3:19 PM — “The best way to get something out of your work force is to instill the intrinsic belief that you’re doing something great.”

3:20 PM — Addressing the concept of being a “missionary” or “mercenary” company. “Depending on what time you’ve looked at us, we’ve been on either side.” McCreary says this si something Zynga’s still struggling with, because there are elements that make both sides great.

3:21 PM — A great indicator that someone is the right person to bring into your company is they’ll always say “yes” to requests because it means they keep their mind open.

3:25 PM — Here are McCreary’s checklist items for HR personnel:

  • Keep egos in check.
  • Make sure people have control of their work/life/happiness balance.
  • Hire people willing to take risks to keep on pushing the envelope forward.
  • Treat interviews like an iceberg: All of the stuff beneath the surface (like personality, work ethic, etc.) are what you can’t see but are the most important parts of a person you’re interviewing.
3:26 PM — That’s it. McCreary just thanked us all for listening and left the stage.