Diligent chief people officer on engaging remote employees

Former Bloomberg HR leader says there’s a ‘beautiful art’ in solving issues, navigating complexity

Diligent chief people officer on engaging remote employees

Avigail Dadone didn’t expect to leave Bloomberg in the fall of 2015.

The Delaware native had spent nearly seven years at the media giant, serving as team leader for HR business partners before becoming regional head of HR. She valued the experience of working for a high-functioning organization with more than 10,000 employees. But an opportunity to transition to a smaller company had risen, and she relished the chance to bring the best practices she learned to an emerging tech player.

This November will mark seven years that Dadone has been chief people officer at Diligent, a New York City-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) firm focusing on governance, risk and compliance.

“It’s been so cool to grow from 300 employees to nearly 2,000,” Dadone told HRD. “What started as a single product organization in the tech space has moved to a multi-product platform. Seeing that vision continue to come to life, and as part of the HR team helping lead that and make that difference, it’s been an awesome journey so far. I’m proud to be part of just the growth story overall.”

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It's been quite the journey for the nearly 20-year HR veteran, as well. The Wilmington native got a taste of the world at a young age, spending her summers in Israel with her father. She parlayed that international exposure into a bachelor’s degree in business administration and international business, along with a minor in international relations, from Boston University’s Questrom School of Business.

Like most college students, Dadone wasn’t sure what path she wanted to pursue, so she dabbled in various industries. After interning at a local bank, she landed an internship at Exelon, one of the largest utility companies in the United States. Impressing her bosses, she was hired post-graduation as an HR associate before becoming an HR generalist.

“I took great satisfaction out of the business relationships and impact you can have to actually coach, counsel and consult,” Dadone says. “You’re helping people navigate and think through situations that require judgment, thoughtfulness and care. Early in my career, I had awesome role models of HR leaders I just wanted to be like. I got into HR even more because I was enamored by the people I was working around. It’s a beautiful art in the way HR leaders handle situations, navigate complexity, get leaders on board and come up with creative ideas for new and unique challenges.”

Over the past two years, HR leaders like Dadone have certainly had their plate full between the COVID-19 pandemic, Great Resignation and most recently, the shift to a hybrid work model. Everybody is still figuring out the most effective way to foster employee engagement and camaraderie while half or even most of the workforce is remote. At Diligent, the HR team has decided to tackle that challenge at every stage of the employee life cycle.

For example, the company has launched a new onboarding program that’s cohort-based, in which employees are broken up into small groups for a week-long initiation. Each day there’s a different theme: Diligent 101, company history, customer and platform, how each individual fits into the company vision and team and culture.

“In order to break down barriers of the remote nature, we brought folks together to build relationships and create dialogue,” Dadone says. “All of this content is leveraged through our intranet. We even created podcasts that new hires listen to each day. We knew that if individuals were going to join remotely, we needed to have a feeling of community from day one.”

Read more: Successful onboarding is the key to retention

After the onboarding process, Diligent ensures new hires understand their role and how it matches corporate goals. Dadone says the company borrowed a goal-setting framework from San Francisco-based Salesforce called “V2MOM,” which stands for Vision, Values, Methods, Obstacles and Measurements. It was implemented across the company last year, complemented with 15Five, a performance management platform that helps managers and employees conduct one-on-one conversations.

Additionally, Diligent has adopted an acquired company’s “Change Agent” program, which leverages top talent, emerging leaders and individuals who want to be heard to help shape company initiatives. About 150 employees participate in the program, helping revamp company values, brand story, corporate goals and even the employee value proposition.

“It started as a challenge, but has turned into a great opportunity,” Dadone says. “It’s like a bottom-up idea generating group that builds an even greater sense of community. Maintaining that sense of community in a remote world isn’t easy and we don’t have all the answers. We always have work to do and there’s always something to learn. Even companies that have ERGs helps because you feel connected beyond just your team.”

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