Forging Connections Across the Country
Sound relishes every opportunity to give our amazing employees the spotlight. In this guest blog, Talent Acquisition Lead Dawn Melikant shares her experience here at Sound and how we maintain a connected company culture with a team spread across the country.
I’m a talker, not a writer. But, I took up the opportunity to author a blog for Sound because I’m personally struck by the tendency of news to focus on what divides us instead of what unites us. My role at Sound exposes me to people from all over the country, and there are a few characteristics I see time and again that unite us, despite our geographies.
1. People want to be heard
2. People want a chance to connect, human to human
3. People appreciate and respect honest feedback
At our core, humans are motivated by connection to one another. Being seen, valued, and understood by another human enables building trust and creates a sense of belonging. And at Sound, our connections as individuals begin with curiosity and expand to interest in creating a more agile and resilient food system.
So what’s my job, you ask? I get paid to meet people. No, really. My role at Sound is to build meaningful connections with people and gain insight into their ability to propel our organization into the next stage of growth. My team is responsible for finding and inspiring people to explore careers with Sound. I’m fortunate to have a job that maximizes my core strengths; my first report card in grade school said “social butterfly.” If only they had known!
One of the best parts of my job is getting to connect with people. I might start the day speaking with someone from the upper Midwest, sharing about the one time a customer had to dig me out of a snowbank (unsurprisingly, that was my last winter in South Dakota). Then I might chat with a financial professional based in the Bay Area, where we’ll talk about balancing the cost of living against the fact that there aren’t any mosquitos and you can dine al fresco year round. And I might end the day talking to someone based in the southeast, bonding over our shared love of cows. (Before you come at me for having real conversations during phone interviews, first, I don’t claim to be an expert and second, I am not a robot.)
Throughout the hiring process, we give candidates the opportunity to connect with the teams they’ll work with and build rapport. While the interview process is intended to evaluate a candidate’s skills related to the work expected, it’s equally important that the interviewee is evaluating the team’s ability to support their career growth and trajectory. Allowing for both parties to experience real conversation and discussion enables a better understanding of communication styles, creates a space where people are more comfortable being honest in their responses (as opposed to saying what they think the other person wants to hear), and facilitates better decision making.
Forging connections doesn’t end in the interview process. For the last several months, our People teams have been building up the onboarding experience to ease the transition, or acclimation process, as candidates convert to new hires and through their first 90 days with Sound.
How We Connect New Hires
1. We assign cross-functional partners as part of the welcome experience
2. We have a series of orientation sessions spread out across the first month focusing on things like company history, strategy, performance and goal setting, etc.
3. We have tools that help managers clarify expectations and skill-building
Beyond the onboarding experience, we’ve created programs and dedicated resources specifically to address engagement and inclusion across Sound. One of my favorites is “Sound on the Ground.” This recently launched program brings employees from different teams and geographies around the country together to visit with producers.. For example, employees from the San Francisco Bay Area, Texas, and North Carolina might come together at a farm in South Dakota, forging direct connections to our customers gaining direct insight into how food is grown. It’s a prime example of how curiosity and understanding enable us as individuals, and as a company, to achieve hard things.
People often ask me why I work at Sound. Hands down, it’s the people! I’m fortunate to work at an organization that empowers and respects my expertise, gives me the freedom to lead with curiosity and challenges me to push beyond the status quo. Mediocrity doesn’t thrive here. No matter what brought each of us to Sound — whether it’s a deep commitment for sustainability, pursuing scientific excellence or a passion for agriculture — we’re united in our commitment to deliver on our mission.
If you’re interested in joining the Sounder community, send us a note at email@example.com.