How Do You Transform Company Culture? Three Keys

Interview with Joe Payne, CEO, Eloqua

Situation: A company is the leader in an expanding market. To sustain growth, they must transform how their people operate so that they better address and serve the needs of their target customers. How do you transform company culture?

Advice from Joe Payne:

  • We have a saying at Eloqua: Culture eats strategy for breakfast. More important than this year’s product strategy is the culture you build that let’s employees make decisions on the fly because they know “that’s how we do things at Eloqua.”
    • Look at how you pay and reward your people. We all receive bonuses on the same team metrics: company sales, profitability, and customer satisfaction. If the team wins, we all win.
    • We are not a democracy, but everyone has a voice. Although we make decisions as a business, we avoid top-down management. We push as much authority and accountability as far down the organization chart as we can. You can only do this well with a strong culture.
  • We adopted a mantra to guide our way, “Get it done – Do it right”, and a set of metrics to make it part of our culture.
    • We created a two-by-two grid, with “Get it Done” on the Y-axis and “Do it Right” on the X-axis on which all employees, including the Executive Team, are plotted. If rated in the top right quadrant, that employee is doing well. If someone finds himself or herself plotted in the Upper Left quadrant (getting it done, but not doing it right), that person has one quarter to improve. Lower Right people get two months. Lower lefters are out that day.
    • We can measure “getting it done” using standard quantitative metrics, but “doing it right” is more qualitative. We ask questions like, “Is the person a positive source of energy for the team? Does she go above and beyond for other staff and for customers?” We provide examples to help evaluators plot individual performance.
    • Once we instituted this matrix, one of our top selling sales reps was evaluated as being in the top left quadrant. When he only paid lip-service to changing and didn’t correct this behavior after a quarter, we let him go, numbers and all. This decision was both a major “wow” and a major win for the company.
  • Culture and culture change start at the top.

You can contact Joe Payne at joe.payne@eloqua.com

Key Words: Culture, Growth, Transform, Customer, Needs, Pay, Reward   

One thought on “How Do You Transform Company Culture? Three Keys

  1. Bob Farrell

    Joe, I’ve been in transportation leadership for 30 years in a wide array of cultural settings. Your philosophy, process for identifying, measuring, empowering and rewarding are some of the most humanly basic yet powerfully effective I have seen.

    This could be because I have tried to lead and mentor my teams similar to this via the intrinsic “seat of my pants” and agree this is a very rare form of exemplary leadership. KUDOS to you for placing this greatly missing business dynamic in a written format. Much continued success to you and your team in 2012!!

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