Ryan’s Masterclass in Clean Communication During His Values Panel Interview

We include a values panel as part of our interview process to acknowledge that all humans come with their own value system. Companies also have their own values. There’s no right or wrong, but there can be misalignment, so we look for people who are cultural “adds”.

Article by
Erika Anderson
February 18, 2024
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Why managing AI risk presents new challenges

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The difficult of using AI to improve risk management

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How to bring AI into managing risk

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Pros and cons of using AI to manage risks

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Benefits and opportunities for risk managers applying AI

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During the values interview, we ask candidates to describe a time where they felt like they embodied each of Storytell’s values. Or, if there was a time they didn't, how would they do things differently? We like to get granular and really dig into specific examples of how our values show up for people and whether or not they resonate.

Conflict is inevitable in the workplace, so our value of Clean Communication is a top priority. We make sure that candidates will be able to create agreements, give and receive feedback, and resolve conflicts in a healthy way if they join our crew.

Here is how one of our engineers was able to show there was alignment during his values panel.

Four months into his career as a developer, Ryan noticed that one of the senior developers on his team, John, was just changing his code and merging into main without telling him.

Ryan felt himself entering the first of three Stages of Experiencing Conflict — activation — but was able to avoid moving to stage two or three and applying his personal filter or having a disproportionate reaction. 

When Ryan noticed he had a bad feeling, he decided to reach out to his colleague and ask for a meeting. 

Ryan could have easily jumped to conclusions in this situation, like many people do. Instead, he showed us he knows the difference between Observations vs Judgments, by avoiding jumping to conclusions.

He knew intuitively that Slack or email wasn’t the best method, so he requested to meet via Zoom.

Ryan had a sense of the The Three Levels of Conversation in this situation, knowing that they would be moving past a factual/operational, level 1 conversation and into levels two and three, which are better suited for phone, Zoom, or in-person meetings. 

When they got on the call, Ryan said he noticed the code changes, so he asked for John's point of view. 

At this point, Ryan showed us he knew How to Navigate Conflict in a Productive Way, sharing data and his feelings around the situation, and noticing he had an unmet need for clarity and learning. 

John was dismissive with Ryan in his response, saying that the code was incorrect and it was just easier for him to make changes himself. Ryan was understandably frustrated, so he mentioned how that's not an effective way for him to learn and improve his code. 

Everyone has conflicts, but not everyone has the awareness or willingness to go back and admit they could have done better. Ryan made a quick, powerful reframe in the moment during the interview, showing he was capable of working within the The Action/Impact Framework.

Here’s what Ryan told us during his interview:

“I think I could have said it better when I told John how it made me feel. I might have made it seem like I blamed him. Instead of saying, ‘When you change my code, it makes me feel like X’ I could have said, ‘When I don't see my code changed before it goes to production. I feel I'm doing something wrong, but I want to make sure it’s right.’”

They eventually came to an understanding. John agreed to write comments on the parts of the code he wanted to change so Ryan could learn from his mistakes. 

Even though there was no formal process in place for code reviews where there should have been, Ryan managed to work things out with John, which showed us he knew How to Repair a Broken Agreement.

Not only did Ryan demonstrate his openness and understanding of Clean Communication in this moment early on in his career, he also told us how he used what he learned from that experience to help out some junior coders in a more recent position.

Ryan’s ability to bring his learnings full circle, and show how he moved through the Stages of Awareness convinced us to offer him a job on the spot. 

To absolutely nobody’s surprise, things are going great!