Survive or Thrive: Inspire Employees & Drive Performance



In this webinar from the Vista Consulting Group, Kazoo’s Chief Customer Officer Tony Capasso and Trintech’s VP of Global HR Erinn Gray discuss driving employee engagement to transform performance.

00:03 Tony Capasso: Good afternoon, everyone, my name is Tony Capasso, and I’m the Chief Customer Officer for Kazoo. I’m joined today by Erinn Gray, VP of Global HR for Trintech and joined by Tom Coffey, Managing Director, Total Rewards and Analytics for Vista Consulting Group. I’d like to thank Tom for his support and inspiration in pulling together this webinar today, and to Erinn for graciously agreeing to participate and for hosting us in these beautiful offices here in Trintech and in Dallas, Texas. So thank you very much. And last but not least, to everyone on the phone, we appreciate you carving out time and joining us today. We know how busy you all are, so we’re very much looking forward to making this a really valuable discussion. And so before we get started, Tom, will you share a few words on what you hope we all accomplish together?

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00:46 Tom Coffey: Sure, thank you, Tony. And again, I wanna echo your thanks to everybody that joined the call today. Most of us recognize that Total Rewards encompasses a lot more than just an annual increase or a bonus or an employee benefit package. The chief amongst the benefits that we offer to employees, of course, is the feedback on how they can get better at their current job and help them build out a career within the Vista portfolio. I’m really impressed at the package that Kazoo has put together, which incorporates both employee recognition, including peer-to-peer recognition, as well as frequent and timely feedback to individuals about how they can get better at their current job and build a career. So without further ado, I’ll turn it over to you, Tony, to begin the presentation. And I would encourage everybody as we go through the presentation to be taking some notes and either send Tony, myself or Erinn a comment about the presentation. This is the first presentation in this series of webinars that we hope to have on Total Rewards or the portfolio. We’re gonna try to do this on a monthly basis. So Tony, take it away.

01:57 Tony Capasso: Great, thanks Tom. I appreciate it. So again, we’re very excited today for the discussion, and we hope that everyone on the phone will have three main takeaways from the conversation. One is a deeper understanding of how work has changed and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead as we enter into this new era of work. Two, we’ll unpack where we’re getting stuck and what’s holding us back from getting to better outcomes, and three we’ll share some real inspiration and tangible views into what’s working and how an innovative new technology platform can support the work. And so the last 10 or 15 minutes of the webinar will be reserved for questions, and there will be a survey that goes out at the end of the webinar as well that we’d appreciate everyone’s participation. So let’s get started.

02:37 Erinn Gray: Okay.

02:38 Tony Capasso: Erinn, it’s great to be here in the Trintech offices, and Trintech recently won Dallas Fort Worth’s Best and Brightest Place to Work in 2019. That may be news to those on the phone, but it’s certainly not a secret to us at Kazoo. Our teams are very familiar with the transformative and innovative work that you and your teams do every day. And so we’re really excited to hear some of your experiences and share this time together. As a starting point, can you share a little bit about your background as an HR professional and what inspired you to join Trintech?

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03:07 Erinn Gray: Absolutely. So my HR journey began in Washington, DC, and I worked for a technology-focused lobbying organization, so really working with high-level executives from software companies and consumer technology companies. And I always really wanted to see what it was like to work in-house for one of these companies with these brilliant, smart people. So that led to an opportunity with an ad tech firm, which was a lot of fun, and then I came across an opportunity within the Vista portfolio. And I met Teresa Mackintosh and the other executives here at Trintech, and this job really fell into my passion for working with really smart people, working in technology and driving transformational change. So I picked up and I moved to Dallas three years ago. Shortly after, Trintech was acquired by Vista.

03:57 Tony Capasso: That’s great. It’s a very impressive background. So how do you feel like work has changed in the last three to five years, and how that’s impacted your role?

How has work changed in the last 3-5 years?

04:05 Erinn Gray: So much. And on behalf of the other talent leaders on the phone, we all are talent leaders in the software industry, and so we should always be the tip of the spear. We should always be representing cutting-edge. And in my view, so much of what has changed over the last three to five years is all about the employee experience and how everything in our lives is mirroring what happens in our lives as consumers. So a few quick examples. In the business side, we started borrowing the Net Promoter Score, so we used to have customer-facing Net Promoter scores. Now we have employee Net Promoter Scores, measuring engagement. Also the influence of social media on how we approach our work. Candidates are really looking at Glassdoor, and they’re looking at those Glassdoor ratings the same way when we go on to Yelp or Amazon, we’re looking at product ratings or business ratings. And from that, I actually… And you may think this is crazy, but I view the HR role with a marketing lens.

05:09 Erinn Gray: And so this is a true story. I came to Trintech, and I try to create an employee experience that employees can post on social media because they wanna take pride in where they work. They’re constantly… Especially Millennials, but not just Millennials like my age, I won’t tell you how old I am, but my friends are posting about what they’re making for dinner and where they’re going on vacation. And so why wouldn’t people wanna post about what’s happening in the office. So that’s the kind of lens I take to my work here, and in the same way, recognition. People get a lot of satisfaction out of how many likes they get on Facebook or how many times somebody likes an Instagram post. Feedback needs to be public in a new way, so a tool like Kazoo where you have these public recognitions, this is really critical and rewarding to people in 2019. And having that strong employer brand is also really important, having your logo everywhere. And then from all of this also being data-driven. Talent metrics aren’t just your headcount turnover anymore, right? It’s that employee Net Promoter Score. It’s that level of engagement. It’s tracking performance. So there’s so much. So those are the quick thoughts that come to my mind.

06:26 Tony Capasso: Yeah, no, that’s really compelling, and we’ll dig deeper into that topic as the discussion goes on. And the one thing that we all share in common is that we’re all part of the Vista portfolio, and it’s important for us to all drive profitable growth and we’re all implementing value-creation initiatives. So how has being part of the Vista portfolio impacted your day-to-day a little more deeply?

How has being part of the Vista portfolio affected your day-to-day?

06:46 Erinn Gray: So first of all, really proud to be part of the Vista portfolio and to work with talented leaders across this portfolio. We share information and best practices with one another. A couple of hallmarks of being a talent leader here is the pace of change, the pace at which we are growing. To your point, this value creation exercise and the profitable-growth initiatives that our private equity owners want us to implement means that we’re growing our employee bases really, really quickly, whether it’s through acquisition or whether it’s organically. We also have these board reports, so it’s a very data-driven portfolio. So in practice, we’re expected to produce these metrics, so we have to have access to data. And it used to be very talent-led, or I should say recruiting-led. So it used to be a lot of higher bridge analytics, but more and more we’re also seeing a need for metrics on the other side of the house like that ENPS score that I talked about. And of course, as we all know, the Hippo hiring model. This is one of the hallmarks of how we approach our workforce and our business, and so onboarding and supporting people that are completely new to the workforce is an important part of our role as talent leaders. So yeah, those are a few of my quick thoughts about what sets us apart in the Vista portfolio.

08:11 Tony Capasso: Yeah, no. I would completely agree. Of course, we’re all feeling that pace of change, and the pace even gets ratcheted up as we get continuing to do M&A and acquisitions. Obviously the need to be data-driven and with the Hippo model. So having said all of that, how does that specifically inform some of the programs that you’re implementing? What are you doing to help solve for some of those opportunities?

How to build culture after a re-brand

08:31 Erinn Gray: Yeah, so let me take you back on the Trintech journey. So we were acquired by Vista, and a week after I joined, we acquired another company and it had been a competitor to us. So one of the first things we needed to do as a business was combine these two workforces that had previously been competing with one another and make one strong culture out of this. So for me, what I did was I brought Kazoo here. I had worked with it in another organization where we had used it to create collaboration across seven US and eight global offices, and I had seen how transformative it was there. So I had this Field of Dreams vision at Trintech. If I build the culture, if I build it even not necessarily organically, but I almost impose it on the company, it will then become self-sustaining. And so one of my first visions was a logo in every cubicle. We changed our company. We changed our brand colors right away, so we didn’t wanna be one company or another company. We wanted to be this new company, so I really wanted to spread that logo and that color across our offices and…

09:44 Erinn Gray: Anyway, Kazoo was transformative here just as it was in my last job, and I’m telling everybody on the call, “We’re in the business of making software for the Office of Accounting and Finance.” And my dad was an accountant, so accountants and the folks that we hire here often have an accounting background. So maybe not the most creative people in the world, they’re following rules. And if we could make this a fun and energetic place to work here, I promise you, you can do it anywhere.

10:15 Tony Capasso: Yeah, that’s incredible. That’s a great story, and I really appreciate it as I was getting to know you and that journey you were going on in rebranding Trintech and in assimilating other companies, sort of this, the importance of finding common ground and using some of these initiatives and programs to find that common ground. So that was really compelling. So I’m sure what’s on everybody’s mind is how do you roll out programs like this effectively? There are likely skeptics in the business, and there’s the change management component to this. How have you done that so effectively?

How can Kazoo help with change management?

10:43 Erinn Gray: Yeah, so again, it was a very programmatic approach and it’s very replicable and it’s really very easy. This is not like implementing an HRIS system or an accounting system. So the implementation process itself is very straightforward. The biggest hurdle is just figuring out how you wanna slice and dice your organization by city, by country, by team, by manager, and then it’s really almost like a one-day implementation, I would think and as I recall. And then creating this common culture, we also wanted to implement our values into the platform, so having that identified and knowing what that looks like and how we wanted to use that. So we then created Incentives within the platform, thinking about the culture that we wanted to create. What did we want Trintechers or what we call ourselves, what did we want them to do in their day-to-day work? Well, one thing we wanted them to do was engage with their co-workers outside of headquarters or outside of London. So we created Incentives around Skype with a co-worker, have a video chat instead of just a phone call.

11:56 Erinn Gray: We also loaded up Swag with these new colors onto the platform, but then where the rubber hit the road, we rolled it out in a managers’ meeting. So we convened our managers, global webinar managers, and we gave them the who, what, where, when, why? Like, “Hey, we’re rolling out this amazing tool for you. This is how it works. Here’s how you create a really good recognition, download it on your phone, super easy to use.” But then what was really amazing is our CEO, Teresa Mackintosh, gave us the opportunity to take time out of an all-hands meeting and introduce it to the entire global team, so we were able to roll it out to this global audience with executive endorsement. And then right after the all-hands meeting, we sent out the login credentials. So it was top of mind for everybody, and they immediately engaged. And then the other play, the other pro tip, was give them something really easy to do to get something. And so we said, “If you upload a photo into Kazoo and into Outlook and into Salesforce, those three actions are worth 50 points each, and then you can get something like this fidget spinner pen.” And believe it or not, that was a really huge incentive for people. So they all wanted their pens. So from there we seeded some swag through the organization and we just found some culture drivers and it got going. It took off.

13:16 Tony Capasso: Yeah, that’s incredible.

13:17 Erinn Gray: Yeah.

13:18 Tony Capasso: And I’m sure those on the phone are eager to learn more about some of those tactics that you used. They’re great. And the other interesting thing that came up around this, as you mentioned, sort of breaking through barriers and getting more of this sort of in the water at Trintech was the importance of this type of program coming out of your department being able to touch non-HR business initiatives and programs. Which ones come to mind that maybe were the most successful in doing that?

13:42 Erinn Gray: Yeah, good question. So, because again, there is skepticism. There was skepticism here. People really didn’t think it was gonna be transformative or helpful. Very shortly after we rolled out Kazoo here with the help of the amazing Chris Goldkamp, many of you know him. And our info security officer came to us and she needed to implement some training on phishing scams. So we work with financial data. We have to be very well protected. We have to make our workforce very aware of how people could access our system, and she just wanted a list of names. She was like, “I just need to know how many seats I need for this training,” and I was like, “Hey.” Her name was Debbie. “Hey, Debbie, let’s use Kazoo. Let’s Incentivize this, and let’s tell people they’ll get X number of points if they complete the training within a date, certain. This is a great way to use this.” And selfishly, I was really thinking of it for myself, but actually it ended up working extremely well for her. 85% of our global workforce completed the training in 10 business days, which blew her away. It gave us great credibility with her, with our executives, because having this training done was part of our audit process or SOX audit process, so win all across the board and it really demonstrated the power of the tool. It’s more than just giving T-shirts away. It really does drive behaviors that are required to run the business.

15:08 Tony Capasso: Yeah, that’s a great outcome and a great example of connecting further in the business. So on that topic, you mentioned a recent Wall Street Journal article titled “Finding the Quiet Employees Holding Your Company Back,” and many on the phone may have read this article. But it mentions that companies have traditionally identified stars in their ranks primarily on performance management practices and an approach that obviously can be subjective or open to bias. So curious about these programs, how they’ve helped you uncover some of those hidden stars and also continue that work of supporting the business.

How Kazoo helps uncover “hidden stars”

15:41 Erinn Gray: So you make such a good point because we used to look for our superstars coming out of the performance management process, who had the highest overall rating, very non-democratic way to approach it. So you implement a system like Kazoo… And this happened very early on and it happened to me personally, so extremely impactful. A lot of change at Trintech, we’re growing really fast. We’re moving teams around, and it ended up that the Site Reliability Team, our cloud team was seated right outside of my office. And this is a team of really quiet people. They’re heads down. They’re on their computers. I do not understand what’s on their screens, [chuckle] but they’re coding away or doing what they’re doing. And I suddenly realize that Kazoo is blowing up with recognition like once or twice a day, this guy, Victor, is getting called out for being this amazing help to people, not just in Dallas, but across the globe and cross-functionally, that helps support desk team, sales team, amazing.

16:44 Erinn Gray: And he sat right outside my office, 10 feet away from me, and literally Tony, I had no idea that every time I was walking out my door, I was walking by a superstar. And if we had never implemented that system, this system, I never would have known that. So this is an example of how a really hidden talent can literally be right outside your door and you really wouldn’t even know it.

17:07 Tony Capasso: Yeah.

17:07 Erinn Gray: Yeah.

17:07 Tony Capasso: No, that’s an incredible story, and I know we’ll talk more about how getting a more complete view of an employee and their activity and engagement can help us surface these kinds of great stories, and so we’ll dig into that deeper. And we’ve talked a lot so far around the power of recognition, and so curious what your experience has been with performance management programs and what learnings we can glean from that as well.

17:27 Erinn Gray: Yeah, so I’ll be curious as to how the other talent leaders on the webinar might respond to this, but I can tell you that I’m living this in real time right now because we’re actually going through a review exercise. And here at Trintech, everyone is bonused on annual goals, and I can tell you from the metrics and the system that the level of engagement with the goals is extremely low, which is so counter-intuitive because this touches your compensation. Our bonuses are not de minimis. They’re nice bonuses. I’m really proud of this here. We pay people well, and so you would think people would be highly motivated to get in there and talk about the progress that they’ve made and even… And I’m gonna call out on Chris, who I’m looking at right here. Chris is so talented, so hard working, but even he isn’t going in there on a daily basis and updating his goal progress the way that he’s very active in Kazoo, sending out recognitions to people that he’s working with.

18:28 Erinn Gray: So I think this is because we have a mental block with performance management. I think it’s hard to do. We think it’s time-consuming. We think… A lot of times it’s not viewed as fun. I think giving feedback is really hard to do, even if it is a star performer because… Yeah, I just think it’s something very difficult. Maybe it feels a little risky. It’s certainly hard to give feedback to somebody who’s underperforming. So personally, I’m trying to figure out a way here at Trintech. I have six months until my next review cycle, so between now and then, I’m really trying to think of a new approach. Now that I see the data and I understand that people aren’t engaged with performance management, what can I do to drive that engagement?

19:15 Tony Capasso: Yeah, that’s a really great question, and that’s obviously something we’ve been talking a lot about and we’ve been looking to explore together. And so we’ve talked about how performance management programs classically have been so hard to implement. They take time. Perhaps on the recognition side, it’s a little easier and more fun to do, right? And more engaging. So the question that we’ve been asking ourselves a lot in having conversations like this is, “What can we do to tie those two programs together to accelerate both and really accelerate our programs in doing that?” What are some of your thoughts on how we can use recognition to help bolster what we’re doing with classic performance management?

Using recognition to bolster traditional performance management

19:49 Erinn Gray: Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m trying to think about right now. I mean, everything is about gamification now, so is there a way to gamify the performance management process? Is there a way even to use Incentives to motivate participation in the process? How can we create… Even weekly habit. I would be thrilled if I had metrics that said, “Trintechers were going in there weekly.” How can we create a weekly habit of acknowledging progress or giving feedback to somebody? And I really do think that the magic bullet or the golden ticket or whatever you wanna call it is, “Could we tie somehow the activity with the recognition to the performance management piece? Can we fit those two things together?” And you and I have been talking about how that might be possible.

20:41 Tony Capasso: Yeah, yeah, and I think we’ll explore some of that today, and there’s a lot more work to do on that subject. But for sure, how can we gamify the program? And how can we make it a habit in terms of participation? I think one thing we had talked about and I’d shared is I read an HBR article that talked about the importance of getting a flywheel going in an organization when new employees join about participating in giving and receiving feedback. And it took something like seven to eight pieces of feedback to be given and to be received before an employee really felt comfortable in that interaction and engaging in those conversations. And so we talk a lot about this internally at Kazoo. If recognition is the easiest piece of feedback to give, and you imagine a new employee who walks in the door of a company, the CEO or their department lead is the first person to recognize them and welcome them on their first day. And then they’re going through an onboarding process and they’re recognizing and thanking people through that onboarding process that are helping them. And so automatically within the first several weeks, you’ve already got the conversation started and then we can go deeper from there. So those are the kinds of things we’re thinking about and exploring and going deeper on.

21:42 Erinn Gray: I like it.

21:44 Tony Capasso: And I guess as we sort of wrap up this intro part of our conversation, I know Chris did a phenomenal job taking what was on your mind and that you had done on a scratchpad on paper, I think this is what we came together with as I heard with you is this is sort of what it might look like in real time. Can you explain to me your thoughts on how this comes together, perhaps?

How feedback creates employee engagement

22:02 Erinn Gray: Yeah, and again, a lot of this was as you and I were talking about how to make this work, and this idea that real-time recognition, which is working so well here at Trintech, for example, that you find that that does inspire and drive performance. So you would… That gives a manager or even the Trintecher themselves an opportunity to have a performance management discussion like, “Hey, did you see all this recognition I’m getting? Hey, you’ve been recognized a lot.” Or even the opposite, “Hey, I noticed you’re not being recognized. Let’s talk about, are you off-course?” And then as part of that performance management feedback discussion, and aligning the Trintecher with our overall business objectives and our goals, and then that alignment will drive even better performance, which leads to more recognition. And so it should be a cycle that sustains itself, and it’s sort of all… In my view, it’s all sort of laying on top of this employee engagement, and it’s both creating and sustaining the employee engagement, right?

23:04 Tony Capasso: Yeah.

23:04 Erinn Gray: Because ultimately everyone wants to get good feedback, everyone… My theory is nobody shows up to work to fail in their jobs. They wanna do well, and so part of alignment is helping them get to that place where they can get that recognition and do well.

23:21 Tony Capasso: Yeah.

23:22 Erinn Gray: So I think this model, I think there’s some possibility here. It’s just, can we bring it to life?

23:26 Tony Capasso: Yeah, for sure. And I love the creating and sustaining. That’s a good sound bite. So with that, maybe let’s jump off and go a little deeper in the conversation. I’d like to share with everyone on the phone a little bit more about what we’re seeing broadly in our customer base at Kazoo on these very same topics we just explored, and even a little bit more broadly around what we’re hearing in the industry about how and where we can take this work. So let’s transition the conversation a little bit, and then before we end, we’ll take a look at some of this of how it might manifest in the technology platform. So with that, we’ll transition here for a moment.

The new world of work: An explosion of digital tools

24:05 Tony Capasso: Great, so I think what we all know and recognize is the needs and expectations of our companies and our employees have been changing for years. And with these shifts, they can be painful, but they also create opportunity for those of us that recognize the potential and really lean into it. So the first major shift that we’re seeing and understanding around the work and have seen for a while is we moved from manual work to automation. That was something that happened decades ago. Companies that held on to their manual processes lost out to those that were able to work faster, future improvements in efficiency and productivity. And we saw another transition happen and companies had access to more data and information than ever before, and that allowed employees and teams to work smarter. And that was a shift we all went through. And then we experienced an explosion of digital tools, and that changed the way we do work, when we do work, how we do work. And so in a nutshell, it made work better. Tools like Slack, Zoom, Google Drive, have all made it possible to collaborate with a much more distributed workforce.

25:02 Tony Capasso: And so the next wave of change that we’re sitting right on top of and that Erinn is highlighting is it’s not being driven by a piece of technology or data, it’s being driven by employee expectations. And so just as we saw this massive shift to focusing on customer experience in retail and other industries, we see it happening in the workplace for employees. They demand more from their companies. It’s no longer enough to be engaged, drive results, and they want a better employee experience. So in this era, the focus is on why we do work, and perhaps we’re trying to help employees answer the question every day, “Why work here?” [chuckle] Not only why I work, right?

25:36 Erinn Gray: Yeah.

25:36 Tony Capasso: So they wanna be inspired. They want meaningful work and managers who care for them as people and provide ongoing communication, clear work expectations and opportunities to learn and grow. So unfortunately, company after company that we speak with is struggling to keep up, and we’ve all seen the data. But it’s probably worth reminding ourselves where we are as an industry and what we’re facing. We know that the large majority of employees, 39% feel under-appreciated. Half of all employees feel no real connection to their work and are really just doing the bare minimum. And even if employees did wanna put in more effort, there’s a big question as to whether or not they’d be working on the right things. The 60% report they don’t understand their company’s goals and strategy, so what’s the cumulative effect of all of this? And I recently saw a Gallup’s study that they estimate that the compounded effect leads to 85% of employees being disengaged, and it totals $7 trillion globally of lost productivity. That’s $7 trillion dollars, and it’s a hard number for us to wrap our minds around, likely. It translates to $221,000 per second of lost productivity.

The inspiration/alignment framework

26:42 Tony Capasso: And I thought it might be fun to look at it if we said it another way. Disengaged employees around the world cost companies almost $800 million by the time this webinar is over. So I hope we’re all engaged on this webinar and doing our part to save the world, but clearly we’ve got some work to do. And so… Here at Kazoo, we’ve asked ourselves, “How do we help and participate in solving for these challenges?” So in speaking with our customers about their employee base and in consulting industry more broadly, we developed our theory of work, and it’s a framework that maps an employee’s level of inspiration versus their alignment to the business goals and strategy. And we use this framework to guide what’s most important when creating solutions to solve for these challenges. So inspiration is on the Y-axis, and it’s really a combination of motivation plus engagement. On this axis, we move from less engaged to purpose-filled and passionate about our work. On the X-axis is alignment, and that really speaks to the level of connection and understanding an employee has around their day-to-day work and how it applies to the business goals and objectives. And so the one thing that we know is that no one company is entirely in any one quadrant of this framework, but rather there are pockets of employees, perhaps, departments or business units or geographies that might fluctuate in and out of these states of work.

27:56 Tony Capasso: And so I’ll go a little deeper here for a moment. The first quadrant on the lower left is surviving. This is the worst place for an employee to be, surviving their job, simply hanging on. These employees aren’t inspired nor are they adding much value. Perhaps in extreme cases, they’re taking away or detracting from other employees’ experiences. In the upper left quadrant, it might be described as off-course. You have employees that are inspired to do their best work, but they lack alignment. These are locomotives that are unfortunately heading down the wrong tracks, powerful, but need a course correction. We all know what it feels like to be there. In the bottom right quadrant, these are employees perhaps doing the bare minimum. We see employees that are in alignment with the priorities of the business, but unfortunately they lack inspiration. And judging from the statistics that we just saw on employee productivity, this is where a lot of employees will likely fall.

28:46 Tony Capasso: And this is another big opportunity for all of us because by addressing this lack of inspiration, we can start to move employees to the highest value quadrant up into the right. And this is what we call thriving. When work is working and it’s inspired, employees are empowered to take ownership of their work and they know how their work aligns to the needs of the company. As you can see, it’s not just about an employee’s ability. It’s about how we as leaders can help our teams unlock their full potential through inspiration and alignment. And Erinn, I’d like to take a pause here for a moment and get your take on this theory of work in particular in times of radical change. How have you seen this manifest at Trintech?

29:24 Erinn Gray: Well, first of all, I just wanna say I love this, when work is working. I think that captures it perfectly. So there are two examples. Let me talk about the off-course. I have a really good example here, and locations have been changed to protect the innocent. But we can imagine perhaps that an acquisition has occurred. Great, great team, lots of energy, and one of the first things we wanna do as a company is get everybody on one system, right? So if they have sales people, we have sales people, how are we doing with sales? Let’s all get on Salesforce. A lot of calls and discussions around our Salesforce instance, only to find that they were implementing their own Salesforce instance and not at all aligned with getting them onto our own Salesforce instance. So it ended up somebody had to get on a plane and spend a lot of money on getting rid of those licenses. So they were absolutely aligned with what we wanted as a business like, “Yeah, that’s stage 40. Yeah, that’s stage 60. That’s exactly what we’re gonna put in there,” but completely separate module, right?

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30:32 Tony Capasso: Yeah.

30:33 Erinn Gray: Also the bare minimum where you have people who are aligned, but low inspiration. This still breaks my heart. Four of my favorite software developers got a new team lead, and he just gutted the culture of that team. And while they were kind of phoning it in at the end, Tony. They were showing up at 9:01 AM for their daily stand-up. They were zooming out of here at 4:57. And one of them was a real culture driver too, and within nine months, they left the organization. They just said they were not learning anymore from this team lead. So absolutely aligned, doing what they needed to do for the sprint, but absolutely not inspired, and we did lose that really important talent as a result.

Microsoft’s Lost Decade

31:23 Tony Capasso: Yeah, yeah, I thought it was interesting as we were talking about how to describe that space as an employee, and originally we were thinking, “Is it unproductive?” But you said actually they were productive enough, but they just weren’t bringing any discretion or energy to the job. Well, those are great stories, and I appreciate you sharing those. And I think those are the kind of stories that we hear over and over and over again. They’re inspiring us to think about, “How do we solve for these two challenges and help our companies get up into the right where they wanna be?” And so we’ve heard a lot of those great stories, but we also know that the results of falling short can be devastating and we’ve all felt that pain. And for those on the phone that may not have seen this article, in 2012, Vanity Fair released a bombshell story called “Microsoft’s Lost Decade.” In the report, they detailed Microsoft’s hated performance management practices.

32:09 Tony Capasso: They struggled to get buy-in and participation. Their process of stack rankings and annual reviews led to nasty in-fighting new politics. So the result was a toxic culture, frustrated employees and abysmal really business results, compared to their peers. And Erinn and I were sharing some stories, but I know you were around in these days and saw of that happened in real time. I don’t know if you wanna share any additional context on that.

32:34 Erinn Gray: Yeah, and as I was mentioning to you earlier, all of us across the Vista portfolio, I’m sure have inherited former Microsoft employees. And I know here at Trintech, I had two managers come and join us. And the first thing they asked me was, “Do you do rank and yank?” That’s what they called it, the stack rank, and they wanted to make sure that they weren’t gonna lose any team members needlessly because of this crazy system. So… Yeah, really tragic what happened at Microsoft. And absolutely, this article is compelling. I would recommend it to all of you if you haven’t read it, but it really illustrates the significant impact that some really bad decision-making around performance management can make on an organizational culture and how it can stifle innovation.

33:21 Tony Capasso: Yeah, that’s great. Thanks for sharing. So, well, let’s contrast then, in the same time period with Google. So while Microsoft was stuck in neutral here, Google was busy figuring out how to unlock even more success, and we’ve all seen a lot of the research and the articles about that. But they wanted to know what made employees great and why certain teams delivered more than others? And so they spent two years studying 180 teams, and the most successful ones they identified shared these five traits. And so items one and two are you need to working on a team, but three and five are definitely true for every individual employee. So therefore, if we think about the ability to provide structure and clarity with goal-setting and planning and then connect that to each employee so they understand how their work impacts the business, they can therefore find their meaning in it, great model. One thing that was interesting to note though, in addition to finding the keys to unlocking this performance, they also discovered what didn’t matter, and specifically, they did not find any link to individual superstars and great teams.

Hiring alone doesn’t create high performance

34:17 Tony Capasso: So while hiring the best may seem like the key to success, their research clearly points out that that alone doesn’t translate to high levels of performance. So the anecdotes and the research are compelling, but let’s talk hard business results. So it’s no secret that Microsoft stagnated for over a decade. Their market cap actually decreased $18 billion from 2005-2012, and Google, on the other hand, experienced massive growth, doubling their market cap in the same time frame. So while Microsoft had one of the most hated performance management programs of any company, Google was figuring out what drives employee performance and putting programs in place to support those needs. So let’s talk about what some of those needs are. And as Erinn mentioned, it’s hard getting results and hard getting participation. And according to Gallup, organizations are discovering that their current approach isn’t working. Just one in five employees agree that their company approach to performance management motivates them. What we’ve found is performance stalls due to challenges in three areas that impact most software companies. It’s somewhere at the intersection of people, process and technology.

35:20 Tony Capasso: And so on the people front, we often have employees that are required to participate. There’s no buy-in. I mean, you shared a lot at the beginning of our conversation around how their fear or perceived risk of participating can hold folks back, so this can be true at all levels. Then there’s the process itself, and we’ve talked a lot about how that can hold us back. The lack of frequency, the fact that these conversations aren’t happening at the speed of business. Employees might feel they’re irrelevant the day they get started. But there’s also this component of being impersonal and focusing on the company needs versus the employee, and this could make the process feel one-size-fits-all. So a simple example on the recognition side of the work is handing out Starbucks gift cards to employees that don’t drink coffee, so we need to personalize and make relevant every part of this conversation.

The tools you need to succeed

36:07 Tony Capasso: And finally, there’s the product. We know we can gain efficiency and scale using technology, but the tools are often rigid and not flexible enough to meet the company and the employee where they are and also to meet the needs around how work is done organization to organization. And as you mentioned we all want consumer great experiences, and a lot of the tools fall short here. So as we sort of transition into taking a look at some of this in action, in life, we know that not everyone has the resources of Google and that’s where the Kazoo comes in. So we’ve taken the decades of research and best practice and created a complete employee experience platform that covers recognition and rewards, continuous performance management and employee engagement, and it’s all fully integrated. So I’d like to take everyone into our new platform that will be released at the end of this year. This will be the first group to see it publicly, so I’m very excited to reveal that and do this demonstration.

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37:02 Tony Capasso: And as you’re all likely aware, it’s probably worth noting, over a year ago we merged YouEarnedIt with HighGround that were both leaders in their respective categories of recognition and rewards and performance management. And we launched our new brand Kazoo to the market in April. And so we spent the last year doing hundreds of hours of user research, interviews, user testing and in the last six months alone accelerated about a million dollars of R&D spend to fully integrate our solutions. And we’ve discussed the importance of some of the key areas we need to solve for, but we think that if we put a finer point on this, these are three specifics that we really feel like can help us immediately take existing programs and supercharge the outcomes and results. So if we focus on increasing participation, changing behavior that leads to better outcomes and delivering actionable insights, as you talked about Erinn, to create that visibility, improve programs, we feel like if we can solve for these three immediate challenges, we can make a lot of progress very quickly.

38:00 Tony Capasso: And so we know that everyone on the phone is doing great work, and the question is, “How can we help you get more leverage from your efforts and achieve more through bringing what are disparate systems and programs into one?” We’re thinking about it as the accelerator pedal to the fuel that you all are putting into the business. So let’s take a look. So we’re gonna begin with participation. And what employees said to us is three things: “Make it easy for me to understand what to do, nudge me on what to do next, and meet me where I am, where I do work.” And so when a user logs in, we make it easy to understand where they are on their performance journey and what they should be paying attention to. So front and center, the platform tells me the very next actions to take, informs me of any upcoming announcements that are important or that I need to be aware of, highlights celebrations, and of course, always front and center is the ability to send recognition and engage socially in a Facebook-like feed.

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39:08 Erinn Gray: I love this. This is amazing.

39:11 Tony Capasso: I appreciate that. And finally, goals. So my status, and I’m one click from viewing my department and the company. And if I click more deeply into goals, I see a complete view while still keeping my department and company alignment visible to me. So now I’m Danielle, a product manager, working on an important launch plan project, and of course it’s all relevant to my goals. So as Danielle interacts with her peers on this project, we meet her where she is with a fully integrated experience that includes email and calendar integrations for both Outlook and Gmail. And you’ll notice that both recognition and the ability to give feedback is seamlessly integrated within the ability to schedule sync-ups, and we’ve taken this further than anyone in the industry with not only one-on-ones, but one-to-many collaboration. So we know that we work on projects cross-functionally now more than ever before, and this is something that our customers were asking for and we’re excited to deliver. Goals front and center again, and then those upcoming sync-ups.

40:22 Tony Capasso: So now let’s focus on the opportunities to change behavior. We know it’s important to make it social and to gamify. Erinn, you highlighted that. It’s also important to reinforce what we’re looking for and to nudge behaviors. Those Incentives have traditionally been very effective for this. So the one thing we’re consistently asked by talent leaders is how we can empower managers to not only participate more deeply, but to be better informed on how to change behaviors and engage those direct reports. So we’re gonna take a look at a Manager View. And so here I am as a manager, and this is the Team Overview page that a manager would access. So the same user design applies with the Team Overview front and center. Who on my team needs encouragement? And then I’m prompted at the level of each individual employee where I should spend my time. So again, we consistently hear that managers don’t have enough time to engage. They often have large teams, so here we help them see where they might be able to make the most impact with limited time.

41:21 Erinn Gray: So I’m looking at this, and I’m loving this. I’m loving the red and green down on social engagement, up on performance engagement. I’m loving the call out that they haven’t been recognized for more than 30 days because we’re all really busy as managers, especially investor companies. I don’t care what function you work in. We are really busy. So this is immediately upfront, visible, and it looks like it’s really easy to action on it ’cause look. Haven’t gotten feedback for 30 days. I can click a button and send feedback. I love this.

41:53 Tony Capasso: Yeah. Yeah. No, you’re exactly right. You’re exactly right. And it doesn’t take any of the creativity or the decision-making really out of the equation, but we’re nudging sort of the behaviors. So perhaps recognizing or sending feedback might be both helpful because it’s been a while in another case, which you’re highlighting. But Marco might decide that scheduling a sync-up is the best action to take. “I actually need to talk to Lee in person.” So let’s say Marco schedules a sync-up. He meets with Lee, and in one view, he can see Lee’s goals, his feedback. It’s all fully integrated. And then in addition to this, his personal recognition feed, which you see there on the right, so it’s a total picture to inform a much more meaningful and impactful discussion and hopefully have an opportunity to make your managers better.

42:38 Erinn Gray: Absolutely.

Actionable insights transform performance

42:42 Tony Capasso: So the final area we’ll touch on, and we’ll start to wrap up after this is really actionable insights. So this is really a total picture of how the programs are performing. You talked about the importance of that as really being a talent leader to lead that dialog and discussion. So if we can understand what’s working and what’s not, we can make the necessary course corrections and improvements and as you said, really important to inform the business more broadly. So here I am as an administrator. In the upper right corner, you see I’m in Admin mode, and again, the actions are front and center. We have a full view into participation, so we’ve already discussed how important that is. Top contributors across departments and at the individual employee level and a great place to find our hidden stars, and then who needs encouragement? This is really an early warning system to potential risk.

43:40 Erinn Gray: Yeah, again, this is… Oh wow, what was that?

43:42 Tony Capasso: Sorry about that.


43:44 Tony Capasso: Were you gonna make a comment here or something?

43:45 Erinn Gray: I was just gonna say, yeah, again, the fact that this is so actionable that I can see at a glance who needs a touch. That’s fantastic. So I’m not digging through data, and it’s not multiple clicks to get there. It’s on this dashboard. I think that again, it’s super helpful that it gets served up like this. I really like it.

44:07 Tony Capasso: That’s great. So last but not least, these actionable insights wouldn’t be complete without a detailed overview of the data and analytics, giving you a finger on the pulse of your organizational health. So these are accessible directly from the system as PDF and slideware downloads and also customizable data files that your teams can slice and dice. And Erinn, as you pointed out to me, this can be a difference-maker, not only informing the exec team, but also board discussions in the business more broadly. And we’re thinking about this as perhaps the definitive progress report for HR leaders.

44:38 Erinn Gray: Absolutely.

44:39 Tony Capasso: This is what really connects some of those key KPIs and gives them a context behind those.

44:44 Erinn Gray: Yeah, I feel like one of the people on Fixer Upper where the Gaines’s have just transformed their house, and I’ve just looked at my dream kitchen.


44:53 Erinn Gray: That’s what I have here because, look, you’re making it so easy for me because those who know me, I’m not a detailed person, but you’re making it so easy for me. So here at Trintech, here’s what we’ve done with our board reporting. I’ve been using for the last two years, “How many recognitions were posted this quarter?” So we look at quarter-over-quarter and now year-over-year increases in recognition to symbolize our engagement. We look at how many people were tagged with our values? Who are our top three Trintechers who’ve been tagged with collaboration or customer focus? So look at all this amazing data, the point in time. You can look, you can see teams. We also try to look at which offices are most engaged? Which managers are most engaged? But this is a whole new… You’ve just taken it… Congratulations, Kazoo team. You’ve taken this to a whole new level, and I feel like I am in a candy store.

45:52 Tony Capasso: Thank you, thank you. Yeah, and for those on the phone, this is actually the first time that Erinn is seeing this in detail as well, and so we appreciate that feedback. And we’d love feedback from everyone on the phone and within the portfolio. Again, this is the first view publicly into what we’re gonna be launching and releasing. And of course, at this point, we’re still continuing to add things to the road map and make additional tweaks to all of that. So this is what I can tell you from my perspective. I’ve been a leader in the technology space for a long time, managing teams. And when this integrated platform was revealed to me, it was the first time in my career where I had the moment where I thought to myself, “I can’t wait to use this.” And I said no one ever about internal systems for managing the business. So I’m beyond excited personally to get this in the hands of our customers and employees, and so why don’t we do a brief recap and then open to some questions from the group?

46:45 Tony Capasso: I think we went into detail, and we can all agree that the goal posts have shifted on us really quickly and there’s a challenge around really delivering for employees around their expectations in today’s day and age. We know that there are practices that could be legacy and/or parts of our process and/or tools that can be holding us back, and then we know that there’s some really great approaches to overcoming that. And you shared a lot of that great anecdote and those stories. So I hope everyone got a great deal of value from this. I loved engaging with you on this, by the way. This has been a lot of fun, and so at this point, unless you have any last words, I think we can hand it over for questions.

Audience Q&A

47:23 Erinn Gray: Well, I definitely wanna see if there are any questions, but as you mentioned, this was the first time I was seeing the platform. And it is gorgeous, and I’m really excited. And I’m also excited about the opportunity that we have, again, as talent leaders in the software space to really take this opportunity to really drive change and find a way to make performance feedback meaningful for our workforce.

47:49 Tony Capasso: Well, just on that note, ’cause I just saw a question from Rex Blagic, “How do you leverage executive leadership to drive adoption and usage?” So just on that note.

48:00 Erinn Gray: Yeah, that’s critical. And again, I will be very honest. There was skepticism on the part of the executives, so I had to fake it until I made it. Like I said, I had that whole, “If I build it, they will come.” So I would recommend you do have to find those easy wins. So partner with somebody in the organization that’s not, outside of talent, outside of recruitment. Partner with sales, find a way to gamify something, and find a way to demonstrate that this tool helped in a way that you didn’t have before. Creating hashtags is something that we didn’t talk about. If you have a new initiative like you’re trying to build a mobile app like, “Apple is so hard to work with. We need to get our mobile app launch.” How many people are working on that? And let’s see the recognitions that are going out about that. I think if you can surface that kind of data for an executive, they really pay attention. And again, here my executive team, they are always, “Show me the data.”

49:02 Erinn Gray: So if you can get more people into the platform and demonstrate what you can show them from the platform even within the feed… If you just open up that feed, you can see absolutely what’s going on across this company on a daily basis. Who’s doing a demo? What product are they demoing? What client are they demoing to? Who’s got a win? Who has a new logo? You can just see it all when you drive that behavior, but it does help to have an executive sponsor, no doubt.

49:28 Tony Capasso: Yeah.

49:28 Erinn Gray: Give them swag.


49:32 Erinn Gray: I do that.

49:33 Tony Capasso: That answer is a good answer to a lot of the challenges.

49:36 Erinn Gray: Yeah.

49:37 Tony Capasso: Well, maybe another good question for us here is, “What are some of the unintended consequences of rolling out these types of programs?”

49:45 Erinn Gray: Yes, so I have a great story from just last week, unintended consequences. So really, I have to say, first of all, the platform, this is genuine. Kazoo is not paying me to be on this webinar, folks. This is genuine. It does really work. You don’t see people gaming the system, but there are some oops moments and we had one last week. Our CEO, Teresa Mackintosh flew to London, and was in the London office. And I didn’t mention previously, in all of our Trintech offices, we have something called Trintech TV. So we put up TVs in our break rooms, in our lobbies, and one of the things that we display on the TVs is our Kazoo feed. And somebody in the London office had posted a recognition that consisted of one word and that word was wanker. And so our CEO was walking around the office with the word, “Tony says to Erinn, wanker.” [chuckle] And so I got a frantic email, “Can you please take it down?” So made that happen. So that’s one happy story, happy unintended consequences. No bad ones though.

50:49 Tony Capasso: No bad ones so far.

50:50 Erinn Gray: No, yeah. No bad.

50:51 Tony Capasso: Yeah, well, maybe we’ll do one more question, and see if we can give folks a few minutes back to get to their next meeting. “How much training is required to get these programs off the ground?”

51:03 Erinn Gray: Okay, really, really good question because if we’re talking just about the recognitions, but it’s equally true to say about the performance management piece, you do need to give people the tools. You need to give them a playbook to really know how to use it. So the sales person that we worked with at Kazoo in the early days, he had basically these pro tips like “Here are some pro tips. Here’s what we recommend that you do.” And one of the key components of that is how to write a really good recognition post. What are the elements it should contain? Like who is the person? What did they do that was special and unique? What corporate value did they exhibit? And then hashtagging the activity and then also posting their boss’s name on the recognition so that it surfaces up to their boss. So I think the training piece is really essential, not difficult to do. It’s very much a part of our Trintech culture now. On your first day onboarding, we talk about Kazoo and how to use it. In monthly onboarding, we talk about Kazoo and how to use it, and we really make sure that it’s reinforced through the organization.

52:13 Tony Capasso: Great, well, I would say to those on the phone, if you have additional questions and there are some we didn’t get to today, feel free to reach out to myself and/or Erinn and/or Tom, and we’d be happy to answer some of those and follow up with you directly. Big thank you again to you, Erinn, for hosting us.

52:32 Erinn Gray: My pleasure.

52:32 Tony Capasso: Yeah, it was a lot of fun. And Tom, a big thank you to you as well. I know you’ve been flying around the world and across the country and made time to prep for some of this and help inspire the group to join and participate. So we’ll be sending out the recording, a survey and the deck via email. Thanks again to everyone who carved out time, and we look forward to connecting soon. Thank you all.

52:52 Erinn Gray: Thanks everyone.

52:52 Tony Capasso: Bye.

52:53 Erinn Gray: Bye.

52:53 Tom Coffey: Thank you all.

Improving employee engagement with technology

We hope this webinar gave you some insight into driving employee engagement at your organization. And if you need a little more help, well, that’s where we come in.

At Kazoo, we’re passionate about bringing together all the tools you need to make work work better for everyone. That’s why the Kazoo Employee Experience Platform brings goals, performance management, recognition, rewards, surveys, and more into one simple, easy-to-use platform.

If you’re ready to align, connect, and engage your workplace, check out our Kazoo overview. Or, schedule a personalized demo today.

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