Episode 9

Shari Eaton

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Season 2

Together We Go Far, with Peloton’s Shari Eaton

In this episode Katelin sits down with Peloton’s Senior Vice President and Global Head of People, Shari Eaton. Shari talks about her non-traditional pathway into HR, how to listen to the needs of your team members, and one of Peloton’s values “Together We Go Far.”


"I think listening is key. If you think you've listened enough, you probably should go back and listen again. And I think listening helps to shape your strategy because you need to have a people-first strategy in order to have a great culture."

Katelin: Welcome back to season two of All Hands brought to you by Lattice. I'm your host, Katelin Holloway. If you were with us last season, you know we focused on sitting down with C-level execs to chat about how people's strategy is good business strategy, but this season, we're doubling down. We're not only talking to CEOs and founders, but a wide range of people leaders, from heads of people to chief diversity and inclusion officers to really get into some of their core practices, principles, and beliefs when it comes to putting your people first. Today, we have the privilege of chatting with Shari Eaton, Peloton Senior Vice President and Global Head of People. Shari has an impressive career leading teams at some of the world's most recognizable household brand names in the retail, grocery, and tech industries, including Starbucks, Devonna, and Amazon.

Now overseeing all of the people in culture teams at Peloton, Shari has only just recently transitioned into the HR field, but her background in operational leadership has allowed her to seamlessly move into this new career of building teams and supporting people. Peloton's culture is notoriously strong, both with their employees and their member community. Members across the globe have experienced this incredible sense of belongingness through their products. And today, I'd like to explore how that translates internally. Shari, welcome to All Hands.

Shari: Thank you so much. Thank you for having me.

Katelin: I am so curious to learn more about you, your journey into HR, and what the future of work at Peloton looks like. So let's start at the very beginning. Can you please share a little bit about how your career has taken shape over the last several years? What did you do before landing this seemingly dream HR role?

Shari: Sure. Yeah, I mean, my journey started quite a while ago, but in retail operations. I actually worked for Starbucks when Starbucks was actually not even a known entity here where I am on the East Coast. I grew my career at Starbucks over a period of 15 years and in different departments, everything from company operated operations to license store operations. I worked on some of our emerging businesses like Teavana, and then I actually made a shift to go work for Amazon and help them to also open up physical retail stores and physical grocery stores, tech stores, really kind of leveraging my expertise in retail. One of the things that I've always been passionate about is people. People purpose brands that do great work, and so having that passion and in that brand love for me is critically important. And that's really what led me to Peloton.

Katelin: That is such a fun journey and those are some pretty impressive logos, but more importantly, it sounds like some really incredible experiences at the early phases of those companies really kind of taking flight from a people perspective, from a culture perspective. Before we jump into the real kind of meat of the conversation, for our audience, is there anything else that you would like them to know about your identity?

Shari: Well, I think it comes through every once in a while and in my speech, but I am from Massachusetts, so that Boston accent creeps in once in a while. I am someone who grew up loving spending time and summers on Cape Cod, which I'm enjoying doing this summer as well with my family. And one of the things that I think is sort of a ritual that I've built over the years is just really kind of believing in Sunday as family day. I think my parents sort of had a lot to do with that. So I love to ensure that my two girls, my dogs, my husband, and I spend Sundays together, sometimes extended family. And literally I will do anything if my kids need me. In a crisis, I'll drop whatever I'm doing to make sure that they're taken care of, but a lot of it revolves around food.

My husband and I met in the restaurant business. My husband spent the entirety of his career in the food industry, and so we're always planning our next incredible meals, surrounded by family, food. Now that we're part-time residents on Cape Cod, we're constantly searching for the best freshest seafood, always working to find that exceptional culinary experience. I even have my own sort of top 10 list of lobster rolls, just like Inky Magazine does.

Katelin: That's awesome. I love that. And I'm so happy that your family is able to spend that time out on the Cape this summer. I'd love to talk a little bit more about your background and that transition into HR if you wouldn't mind. Some of my absolute favorite people and culture role models come from a background that's similar to yours, and that what I would call or someone would call non-traditional or not classically trained. You didn't go to school straight out of high school and into college saying, "I'm going to be an HR professional." So I'm very curious, like what about your experience leading up to Peloton do you think has served you well in this function, having this transition?

Shari: Right. Yeah. I mean, I think there's this passion for service that you either have or you don't have. And I certainly have it, again, starting in the restaurant business very early in my life. And as you think about being a leader of leaders and as I grew up at Starbucks, one of the things that I really began to understand is like people work for people, and it doesn't matter if you have the best company culture, or if you have the best amenities, but it's really about the care for people that makes people stay in their jobs. And I learned really early that I love watching people grow and develop and be their best selves and go on to do awesome things. And so I think you're in a great position to do that when you're an operations leader.

Now, as my career grew, and I had opportunities to do things like joining an emerging business that didn't have processes built out or working with Amazon and some of their very small units where you had to get very scrappy and creative, I had the opportunity to work side by side with HR leaders, building out talent reviews, thinking about how are we going to grow and develop our people? What does it look like from a performance management standpoint? And so I think there was sort of this best of both worlds around leading people and leading large teams, and then also having this opportunity to build and create and develop HR practices in each of those businesses. So that's really what led me to making the career change.

I was having a really great conversation with my leader and we were talking about, hey, what's next? What's next for you on the journey? How are you thinking about developing the year? And she actually mentioned, "Hey, I really could see you as an HR leader here." And I was a little taken back, I was like, really? You think so? And she's like, "Shari, it's actually more akin to what you do than you think." There's an operational component and a process component, the way that you care for people, the way that you really you dive into the people aspects of your role. And so I really started to think about that. And when the Peloton opportunity came around, I did some soul searching. I thought about what are the things that get me out of bed every day. And generally those are like building process, which I knew I would have to do at Peloton because it was such a young company and then caring for people. And at the core of it, that's what you really do, right?

Now, the technical aspects of it and insured getting some training and schooling, and I did a lot of that. I went back to Cornell and took some courses there, particularly in the areas that I felt least comfortable. And then with all of that, I'm just enjoying every moment. I just feel like my 25 plus years in operations just really led me to this moment where I could do what I'm really passionate about doing.

Katelin: Having followed a similar path and journey, I don't feel like I picked HR. I feel like HR picked me. And that's a very passive way of saying it because was much more intentional than that once I had that same moment that you did, where someone pointed out to me and said, "Hey, I think you're wired for this." And I was like, really? Huh. And I began to investigate it, and I did the exact same thing. I was like, well, there's a pretty big hole for me over here. There's a pretty big gap around compliance and the legalities of things. And I did the same thing. I went back to school and started focusing on those areas. And so I love that you did the exact same thing. It really kind of paints a more full picture, and then the real learning is on the ground.

The real opportunity is when you can say, "Oh, right, that is so akin to this thing that I did back when I was at Starbucks, or back when I was leading this particular team, or we were launching that particular thing." And you can kind of draw from your years of experience, which absolutely ladder up to this work in a really lovely way.

Shari: I think I was two months in, I called her back and I said, "Okay, I get it."

Katelin: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Shari: I totally understand where you were coming from.

Katelin: What was her reaction?

Shari: She was like, I knew it. I just knew you had to get in there to your earlier point and you had to experience it and you had to then gain some confidence and understand that this was so akin to what you were doing, that you just didn't realize it.

Katelin: So now tell me a little bit more. So aside from this, you were pointed in the right direction from a leader that cared about you a lot, that it sounds like you had a trusted relationship with, and it sounds like you had this intellectual curiosity around wanting to try this work and wanting to check this workout. But talk to me about the actual Peloton opportunity. Was it the industry or the opportunity to try this role, or was it this particular opportunity that really made you kind of take the lead?

Shari: Yeah, it was this particular opportunity I was approached around. My first role at Peloton was VP of People Operations which involved oversight of the people business partnership function, which was very small when I started and safety and security, which was kind of right up my alley based on the fact that I had certainly not led it, but had a lot of experience with that in operations. And it seemed like the right balance of people operations and operations work with safety and security that would be a good first step for me into the HR world. One of the things that I did, because again, for me, it's about passion and purpose and people, is I watched this podcast that John Foley, our CEO, had put together called, well, he was on this, How I Built This podcast. And that particular segment just inspired me to be part of the culture.

I listened, I felt this super strong connection to it. Just because of the values that I have, I thought, well, this is a place where we really foster people, we care about people, we want people to thrive. John always says, "Come here and paint your masterpiece and be the best version of yourself," which is our mission. And that really connected with me. So it really drew me. It drew me to the company and the opportunity.

Katelin: Let's go back in time just a little bit. So when you took on that first role, how many full-time employees did Peloton have?

Shari: Oh, gosh, I think all up, we were probably around 2,500 total employees. And on the People Team, I love to tell the story, September 2019, we had 33 people, most of them recruiters on the People Team.

Katelin: Yeah. Sounds about right? It sounds about right. And so then now bring us to today. What is your full-time headcount and then specifically your People Team, too?

Shari: Yeah. We've grown exponentially. The People Team where we started was more of this like generalist model where you had a support system in our HQ and really they were everything from people business partnership to communications, to your shared services function. And so what I focused on in my role was sort of growing the people business partnership arm of this to really be that strategic working with our business leaders, which we didn't have. So kind of building that. The first few hires that you make are so critical. I hired a really great people business partner, I hired a really great safety and security leader, and really kind of invested in those folks to help grow out those two areas. And might I add just in time on the safety front for the pandemic.

Katelin: Right.

Shari: So really then the focus was like, okay, how do we develop our COEs, our Centers of Excellence, and really talent development, talent management, people experience, and really employer brand change management. And so that's been the work of the last, say, year-ish is really trying to delineate sort of this more COE model where we have comp and ben folks, talent management folks, and then PVP sort of on the delivery model. And that's been a really great work, really fun work that I have that I've enjoyed. We had a really big year last year. The People Team is right around 170-ish folks right now.

Katelin: Holy moly.

Shari: Yeah. Yeah.

Katelin: It's awesome. Awesome.

Shari: That's really crazy. Really awesome. Yeah.

Katelin: How many full-time employees total are you now?

Shari: Oh, in total, total employees, somewhere around 9,000 employees right now.

Katelin: There's nothing more tragic than hearing about a very, very large organization with a very small people team, or to your first point of largely recruiters, it breaks my heart. So I'm glad to hear you have a good and healthy and strong team in place. Let's get a little bit deeper into Peloton's values, something that you all are known very much for. And something that we've featured on the show so far this season have been a lot of brands that have their external values are their internal values, where they are leading not just their product and their brand marketing, but it's also very much demonstrating and showcasing what we value and what you value as a company and as a team. And one of the values that stands out to me is, "Together we go far" and so much so that it's something that instructors will actually often say in class, right?

So I'm curious, if you could explain a little bit more about why this value is important to share with not just your users, but your employees. How does this show up in action?

Shari: Sure. I mean, before joining Peloton, I didn't know that the word itself actually means a group of cyclists that ride together and go far. And so the, "Together we go far" value is just such a great metaphor for what we actually do as well. In a Peloton, some people may take the lead at some points, some might have to take a recovery ride, and some people push forward, and then the person will take a recovery ride as well. So we're all about that community passionate about impact and making sure that we're being challenging and supporting in all that we do. So "Together we go far" really is about encouraging everyone to have a voice really and draw out the best in people. It really means inclusion to us as well, right? So we embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion. In all forms and all views and experiences, we're open to all of that, that are different from our own.

So "Together we go far" means that we recognize that, right? And we win and work together. We want to work shoulder to shoulder. We have each other's backs. We're a highly collaborative company in terms of our culture. We work cross-functionally a lot offering different points of view throughout, and we really leverage that diverse expertise that we have to make sure that we play to people's strengths. So "Together we go far" really make sure that we have this ongoing open dialogue. We ensure that we can champion this culture of inclusivity, but we also make sure that we debate, decide, and then let's go. So sort of one of our sub values here is like this obligation to dissent and listen, and we uphold that to make sure that we don't have social cohesion. So I really love this value. It's super meaningful, especially since we're moving at a pretty intense pace right now, and it helps to ground us in who we are and what we're trying accomplish.

Katelin: It really speaks to kind of how I see the Peloton culture showing up and that translation between the outside and the inside. For example, you all do not shy away from making statements or making commitments around many of the things that are important to our employees and important to our users, especially at this particular moment in history. You're talking about Juneteenth, you're talking about AAPI Heritage, LGBTQ plus rights. Peloton always has a voice and is out there, again, not just from change your company logo on LinkedIn to have the right color for the month, but really making statements, making commitments, and taking it even further than that, really aligning with your users. So I'm curious from your perspective, why do you think that's so important to include your users in something that could be considered just something that you should be doing for your employees?

Shari: Yeah. You just mentioned something, it's really this work from the inside out, right? So we've had diversity and inclusion in our DNA forever, right? And we know that we're just beginning this journey as a public company, but really we're using it to build the foundation for that diverse, inclusive, welcoming place to work, which if you think about it, the team member experience really fuels the member experience, right? Like you'll never be better on the member side than you are on the team member side, right? And really our values reflect that in the commitment that we have to working together to really achieve that potential. As we grow, we like to bring awareness to things that can bring us together, "Together we go far" and celebrating and bringing awareness to Juneteenth and AAPI Heritage and LGBTQ rights. And those are all the things that are just like, they're just part of the fabric of who we are.

And it makes it our shared responsibility, I think, to make sure that we're celebrating and recognizing cultural moments from that inside out. It's something we do every year. It's not just a month. It's a completely the grounded belief that we have in how we should work together to be the best place to work. And so that's really sort of the genesis of that. We've done a lot around the Human Rights Campaign and the Corporate Equality Index. For two years in a row now, we've been named as like 100% perfect score, that means a lot to us because it really shows that we're setting the standard for what that looks like in corporate policies and practices.

Katelin: Yeah, I think it's very, very commendable. Congratulations on that perfect score. That is very, very hard to do. So congratulations to you and the team on that, for sure. You've joined not only a new company, but a new role, a new job for yourself at a really interesting time in history unbeknownst to you, I would assume.

Shari: Exactly. Yes.

Katelin: You said you stepped into this people role.

Shari: I had no crystal ball. Yes.

Katelin: Exactly. So you're like, great, I'm going to go out there. I'm going to try this new thing. I'm going to try out this passion, follow my intellectual curiosity, and then boom, 2020 unravels in a way that none of us expected at all. I would love to just kind of hear from your perspective, what did that feel like for you? How did that show up in your work?

Shari: Yeah. I mean, it was kind of what you said. It was, hey, I'm starting this new job with this new company. It's September 2019, what could go wrong? Right? And I actually am so thankful that I had the opportunity between September and say February to spend a lot of time getting out into our sites and meeting with our team members. It was so invaluable going to warehouses at six o'clock in the morning and doing their stand-ups with them, talking to them while they load their vans, going to retail stores and spending time with the team, spending time in our member support center in Plano, Texas, and just spending time with our corporate teams in New York. It was really great because it helped me to create and conduct an assessment of where we were, where we needed to evolve our people functions. Then COVID hit, right?

So we really had to accelerate the timeline and shift our priorities, obviously like every other company needed to and HR leaders needed to. So really every organization has a challenge in scale, but when you scale as rapidly as we did during COVID, it's a matter of like making sure you can get your team to be caught up to your earlier point about staffing. Like I put like a full court press on making sure that we were hiring and getting those Centers of Excellence up and running so that we could really support the team. I mean, literally I think the function where I spent most of my time early in the pandemic was on the EHS front, Environmental Health and Safety. We literally had a very huge challenge ahead of us. Luckily I had hired a couple of people to support, but really needed to make sure that we could rapidly create strong practices and programs to support the safety of the team.

And I think the pandemic has taken so many different hills and valleys. We were in sort of the crisis moment of this is happening to us, what can we do? How do we pivot and make sure that all of our team members are safe and make sure that we can make everyone able to be productive. And then we went into the place where it was like, okay, now everyone's a little too productive, we need to look at our work-life harmony particularly in our corporate team members that were from home and sort of those lines between working in an office and are gone. And so that was another test and a challenge, really listening intently to what our team members were sharing with the biggest barriers. We worked really hard to institute work-life harmony norms, how to protect your time, making sure we challenged meetings, creating more accountability around developing RACI models and decision-making models, and ensuring that our teams actually took their PTO fully and normalized to doing that in a pandemic, right?

And so we had to increase our team members support for their families, access to mental health services, resources for family care. So it was really just an all hands on deck around how do we make sure we can react to every need that was different than it was just a month ago with our team members.

Katelin: Yeah. I love that you say you were seeking harmony after kind of that initial shock and spike of, oh crap, what are we going to do? And ensuring safety and those basic human needs, moving into an adapting and evolving into that space of rebalance and trying to find that harmony on the team and surfacing the needs of every individual. It doesn't help, and this is a good problem to have, your product skyrocketed. Home gyms became the norm, became the need. Your product itself became a perk, became a benefit, became something that people needed and were desperately seeking. And so I can imagine what that did to production cycles and manufacturing and the teams that had to support and sell and shipping and all of the logistics that I know, frankly, squat about. And I'm sure you know now very well. What was that like on just the pressure from needing to produce this for people and taking care of your members and all the new members who were subscribing? What was that like?

Shari: Yeah. And I was asked to take on the rest of the People Team during this time as well. So I moved from my original VP role to an SVP role. And of course onboarding and recruiting and finding the right folks in evolving your recruiting practices during COVID was certainly something that we focused really heavily on. We wanted to make sure that as we brought in new people into the organization, how are we going to create... Again, I shared with you, I had those few months to actually get to be in person with people. And so I think that was one of the biggest, I think, achievements that we had, is that we were able to bring in so many new people, build out so many new functions, keep our operations running and safe, all while, again, just scaling so rapidly.

We were able to even improve our onboarding experience. We took it from a one that we call it the Warm Up. So of course, we wouldn't call it the Warm Up. And we took it from a one-day experience to a two-day facilitated plus just in time learning experience. And the greatest feeling was when I would connect with people that were new in the organization, I would be like, how do we do, like, how was it? They're like, oh my gosh, it was so fantastic. And these are people that were coming from very large companies that we were bringing into our tech space and our supply chain space, and they had nothing, but just really fantastic raving reviews of the experience. So that felt really good. And I'm so proud of our teams for acting so quickly and really responding to what team members needed.

And then, yeah, on our distribution side, we grew really in a big way, and it definitely put our leaders to the test, but I just feel like they led in such a people-first way. They did such a great job of ensuring that we could take care of folks, they felt safe coming to work, that we modified our operations. We started delivering our bikes at the threshold instead of bringing it into people's homes. And we've gone through multiple iterations of like what that looks like, right? Presentation, no presentation, threshold, in room of choice. And so you're right, I am an expert right now in our logistics operations, having worked with my team on ensuring we had all of those safety SLPs for our team.

Katelin: And so that actually brings me to my next question, which is, where are you all settling out? It's not like a software company where you have one office and it's all knowledge workers and they can all work from home, no problem. You have so many different types of employees that are showing up to work and need to show up to work in different ways. Where are you all kind of settling out or settling in with return to office? Because the big assumption here is that some of your folks never left their office or their place of work. So what does it look like?

Shari: Yeah, absolutely. And you said it so well. We're not a one size fits all company, and that's actually been one of our true north statements throughout the pandemic. And so we can't have a one-size-fits-all solution for our company. The majority of our non corporate team members have worked through the pandemic. I also should mention, our retail teams are just amazing. When we went to shelter-in-place, they couldn't work, right? Retail locations were shut down. They actually went into their homes. We got them set up with technology and they actually worked inside sales from their homes, working from home until we were able to open up our retail. And we were able to keep everyone working, everyone productive, which was fantastic. There's one-size solution. However, because our corporate team members can work from home, certainly we can't do that with our logistics teams and our retail teams.

We have been very slow and very cautious on return to office because it's just not necessary, right? We do believe, and part of our culture is we do like to be in person, and we are really looking forward to having some kind of full return to office at some point. But we've been taking it slow. As soon as we were able to in different parts of the country, so our main hub is in New York city, but we also have Plano and Atlanta, California, and certainly London, as soon as we were able to, we did get our most critical teams working, right? So our research and development teams, our product teams, some of our supply chain teams, teams that really benefit from working together, and of course my EHS team put together wonderful practices and procedures so that everyone is staying safe and following all the protocols.

So we have had a small amount of folks working. And then most recently, as we were looking, like, we're going in a good trend here, we actually opened up a couple of floors in our brand new office in New York city, which is really gorgeous. And we invited folks voluntarily, if you wanted to come in, to come in. And we were just starting to get there when the most recent trends in the Delta variant hit. And so we're taking it cautiously. We are not doing a full mandatory back to work now. We have strongly encouraged return to work in mid-October right now, but again, we're just going to keep doing what we did all last two years, really long, is look at our benchmarks, follow CDC, see what our states are doing, and really just do our best work to get folks back to work.

We also have improved the flexibility that we had. I mean, like a lot of companies, we were like a real office. From a corporate perspective, we were just a real office, heavy culture, like everyone went to the office and that's just how work was really done, other than, of course, our retail teams and our leaders that would travel from site to site. And so now there's flexible options, right? I think you have to have some flexibility. We have a hybrid option for our team members, we have an onsite option for folks that just want to go back to the way it was, and then we have remote options for folks that can do their work remotely. So we've already put that flexible working policy in place, and it's really just a matter of executing it when things are safe to do so.

Katelin: Outside looking in now that I'm not an operator anymore, hands-on on the daily and watching this debate, I'm here in San Francisco and watching the debate of the companies that are insistent that everyone come back, and you used the perfect word when you were describing it. It's not necessary for some roles. It's not a critical part of getting your work done. And if the last year and a half hasn't proven that to you, what are you holding onto? Right? And so what I'm hearing in your approach is all about agility, flexibility, adaptation, and really honoring the needs of the individuals. I know that you've said it a few times, I'm going to say it again, this one size does not fit all. Does it require more work? Absolutely. Does it require more resources? Absolutely. Is it worth it? 100%.

Shari: Absolutely. I mean, we certainly, again, it is a sort of paradox because we do believe that we're great when we're together and we have missed each other. I actually went into the office, I think, three or four weeks ago when we first opened a couple of floors because I wanted to get a tour. I also oversee workplace. And so it was so good to see people. I mean, it was just fantastic, but you have to balance all of that with flexibility and care for people and making sure you're making the right decision.

Katelin: I could not have said it better myself. Well, Shari, this brings us to the rapid fire section of the interview. Are you ready to try to move and think very quickly with me?

Shari: I will do my very best.

Katelin: So this is how it works. I'm going to ask you a series of questions. The first few will be a warmup, and then they might take you a little bit more processing, but I know you've got this. Don't overthink it. Are you ready?

Shari: I'm ready.

Katelin: Excellent. What is your favorite Peloton class?

Shari: I love to take the '80s or '90s bike classes. I love the music.

Katelin: Yeah. I was going to say you can't go wrong. Awesome. Do you, or do you not still get upset when people say large over venti?

Shari: Yes, 100%. And my daughter works for Starbucks, so we're just like Starbucks for life over here.

Katelin: Okay. Looking at the desk in front of you, what item sitting there sparks joy for you and why?

Shari: Well, a lot of things sparked joy for me, but right now, I have this mentorship program that I've been working on with the Women's Alliance.

Katelin: Nice.

Shari: I'm an executive sponsor of the Women's Alliance, and this is a book that I've used throughout my whole career. It's for Lois J. Zachary, it's called the Mentor's Guide. I used it as the basis for the Women's Alliance mentorship program that we just launched. So that gives me a lot of joy.

Katelin: I have not heard of that book. I will go check it out. Okay. Next question, what is your favorite productivity hack and why?

Shari: Favorite productivity hack. I would say I've just learned about this Slack tool called Clockwise. And I don't know if you've heard of this, but essentially your whole team can join it and it creates focus time for you, and it blocks out your lunch, and it can automatically move around your meetings around, your regular meetings around. And I'm only a couple of weeks into it and I just absolutely love it.

Katelin: Nice. I love that. Truth be told, I asked that question for myself. I'm trying to figure out my [crosstalk 00:35:51]

Shari: Gaining insights. Yes.

Katelin: This is me taking advantage of the beautiful brains I get to talk with these days. Okay. Those were the easy ones. Are you ready for ones that might be a little bit more challenging?

Shari: Sure.

Katelin: Okay. Company culture, family, or sports team? And why?

Shari: I think family. I think family because a family doesn't always agree, but a family will ultimately, because they love each other, find a path forward. And I think that's a little bit of that sort of like descent and listen culture value that I was sharing with you at Peloton. And I think when I think of Peloton, and our instructors say it a lot, our community is family, our team is family. So I think that resonates with me.

Katelin: It speaks to the, "Together we go far" as well. Okay. One tactical thing that leaders or HR teams can do today to support hybrid and flexible work?

Shari: They can think about how they are going to logistically support a hybrid working force in their sites. And this is tactical. So what does that experience look like? Do you have a desk? Do you hot desk? Do you have a place to put your things? So I think it's all about what is... It's great to say you're going to have a hybrid environment, but now you have to figure out, like, what does that journey look like for that person when they come to work every day? And is it different than someone who's there five days a week? Is it different than a remote individual? What are some of the commonalities that they share? So I think figuring out those personas of each of your worker types and really making like a, we call it a day in the life journey of what that looks like, and literally making a day in the life journey, I think it really will help our teams come back to the office in the manner that they're choosing to come back.

Katelin: That's excellent. That's a very empathetic approach to building a program like that. I appreciate that. Okay. One last rapid fire. When was the last time you were deeply proud of something you have accomplished?

Shari: That is like such a hard question, isn't it?

Katelin: I know. I know. Great leaders often have a hard time taking a moment, and so this is my chance to help you reflect on that.

Shari: Yeah. I mean, I think I'll go back to what we talked about in terms of the COVID response. When that happened, I said to my safety and security leader, I said, "I think that you and I should just block ourselves out and put ourselves into like a war room." Like no meetings and just be there for people, that they can come and they can go. And as time things change and legal needs to talk to us or ops needs to talk to us or internationally needs to talk to us, we're just available for people. And I'm proud of doing that and having that moment where we just said, "Nothing else kind of matters." And I think that it really led to really great outcomes and collaboration and really helped our company move forward. So I will say that moment, it felt like we were doing the right thing.

Katelin: It sounds like you did. Shari, I cannot even begin to put myself in your shoes, adopting and inheriting this group of people and people leaders in a time that no one had the right answer to you. There was no playbook here for any of us. And I would be proud if I were you too. And I'm sure your team is also very proud of you and proud to work for Peloton because it sounds like you all have come a very long way and as gracefully as you possibly could have. And that's large in part to your leadership. So before we wrap it up here, I have one last and final question for you. What advice would you give to founders and people leaders out there trying to make sense of this particular moment in history? How can they use this as an opportunity to build a better organization into this next chapter?

Shari: Yeah. I mean, I think listening is key, and if you think you've listened enough, you probably should go back and listen again. And we've challenged ourselves to do that. You can say, "Well, I did the survey and they said this six months ago." Well, what are they saying now? What are the needs of your team members now? Because I think when team members feel like you are listening and you are acting on their feedback, then you have engaged team members, engaged employees. And I think in this moment in time, you can't do that enough and you can't have enough vectors for communication and listening, and maybe sometimes it's not just all the traditional channels. Recently, our CEO, our Chief Content Officer, our Chief D&I, they all had this wonderful meeting with our hourly team members in our warehouses, and just talked about what's on everyone's mind.

We've held multiple listening sessions for our team members on everything from the moment with the George Floyd mortars all the way through COVID and dealing with the ups and downs of the pandemic. And I think listening helps to shape your strategy because you need to have a people-first strategy in order to have a great culture. So that'd be my very simple and humble advice.

Katelin: I think it's fantastic advice, and I hope that our listeners take you up on that because I could not agree anymore. So thank you for ending on that beautiful note and that beautiful word of advice. Shari, I am so anxious for our listeners to hear your story and to take you up on some of this incredibly helpful and tactical advice. So thank you again for joining us on All Hands. It's been a real pleasure. So thank you.

Shari: Thank you so much, Katelin. It's been great.


Thanks so much for joining me on this week's episode of All Hands brought to you by Lattice. I'm your host, Katelin Holloway. This episode was produced by Lattice in partnership with Pod People, Rachael King, Madison [Lisby 00:42:22], and Samantha Gattsek. Learn more about how Lattice can help your business stay people focused at lattice.com, or find us on Twitter @LatticeHQ. Don't forget to subscribe to All Hands, wherever you get your podcasts. Join us next time.

About the Guest

podcast guest

Shari Eaton

Shari Eaton joined Peloton in 2019. In her role as Senior Vice President, Global Head of People, Shari oversees all People functions including: Talent Acquisition, Total Rewards, Global People Experience, Enablement & Development, Global Safety & Security as well as EMEA, AUS and Taiwan.

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