Tips to recruit a modern-day employee
When DataBank planned for massive growth during the pandemic, they embarked on a journey to improve employee engagement through three pivotal ways: Defining who they wanted to be, developing a clear strategy, and selecting a partner to build a consistent culture of recognition.
This free industry session offers a unique opportunity to hear about their evolution first-hand, providing you with valuable insights and inspiration on how your organization can build an authentic culture of recognition.
Join Alex Powell, director of client cultural insights at Reward Gateway, for a conversation with JP Laqueur, senior vice president of marketing, and Paul Myott, VP, organizational effectiveness & internal communications at DataBank, as they share expert tips on how your engagement strategy can continue to evolve as your company grows and faces the pressures of the current talent market.
Watch the webinar today and learn about:
John: [00:00:24] Hello, everyone. I'm John Corrigan, senior journalist at HRD America. And I thank you for joining us. Today's webinar is brought to you by Reward Gateway, which provides an employee engagement platform that brings employee benefits, discounts, recognition and reward well-being, communications and surveys into one unified hub. This webinar will focus on developing a culture of recognition and engagement at a growing tech company. Let me introduce our speakers. Alex Powell is the director of Client Cultural Insights at Reward Gateway. She'll be joined by JP Laqueur, senior vice president of marketing at DataBank, and Paul Myott, vice president of Organizational Effectiveness and internal communications at DataBank, which is a provider of inner class data center, cloud and interconnection services. During this webinar, you're encouraged to comment and ask questions in the chat located to the right of your screen. That's all for me. Alex, take it away.
Alex: [00:01:26] Great. Thanks so much, John, and welcome, everybody. Great to have JP and Paul here to chat with you about this topic and some of the really incredible foundation they've built at DataBank over the last few years and how it's paid off for them in especially this last year. So before we get into a little more information about what we do and our roles, I do want to give you a chance as listeners to share with us what is going on for you and what frame of mind you are in. So we're going to kick things right off with a poll. So this poll is going to be about what is your biggest concern at the moment. Now, there may be about 15 you could list. They may not be specifically here, but these are some of the things we've been hearing from folks maintaining culture and connection, getting leaders to support culture, hiring, retaining people and outside market forces. And if there is an other there that isn't quite there, then feel free to put in option. So if everybody could please take a moment while we introduce ourselves to respond to that poll, that will give us a sense of where listeners are at this moment. So while that's happening, what I'd love to do now is ask JP and Paul to tell us a little bit more about their role at DataBank and how they came to lead the cultural program. So. JP can you kick things off?
JP: [00:02:49] You bet. Thanks, Alex, and great to be back with you guys again today. Like you mentioned, I'm the senior vice president of marketing here at DataBank and I'm responsible for all of our traditional marketing and communications programs, ranging from brand and PR to content marketing, digital campaigns, you name it. But I'm also responsible for all of our internal communications efforts, especially around culture. I've always believed that brand and culture were sort of opposite sides of the same coin. Especially in today's services businesses and in the tech sector, where very often the brand impression is the impression you get or the experience you have interacting with a company's employees and their culture. And in fact, prior to joining DataBank, my consulting practice for 17 years was around the integration of branding culture and how you bring them together. So I very intentionally brought that that whole model to DataBank.
Alex: [00:03:44] Great. And Paul, how about you?
Paul: [00:03:47] Yeah, thanks. Thanks, Alex. And thank you, everybody, for taking the time out of your day to join us. Hopefully, we'll bring you some insights and some experiences that will help you along your cultural journey. Organizational Effectiveness. I am the VP of Organizational Effectiveness and Internal Communications at DataBank and together with my partner in crime, JP and our HR team, I lead all the efforts around the cultural programs. And I've got about 25 plus year background in this in this area. I've got a master's in organizational psychology and organizational design. Been doing that at large organizations as both a consultant and an internal employee. And prior to joining DataBank, I was collaborating with JP in his consulting practice, as you just mentioned, where he was astute enough to marry brand and culture together and in DataBank was a client of his time. So so in the initial project we conducted, which we'll talk a lot about today here, went so well that they decided to make me a full time employee.
Alex: [00:04:55] Awesome. Well, it sounds like a good combination there. If people are wondering who I am and why I'm going to be speaking today, as John said, I am from Reward Gateway. My role as director of Client Cultural Insights is I work with our clients who have our employee engagement platform to ensure they're getting the business results they want to see. And for those that really are, I spend a lot of time in the data figuring out what differentiates them, which is how I came into contact with both JP and Paul. So to close things out on the poll, what we heard from folks is maintaining culture and connection. Hiring and retaining people are the top two that showed up in regards to the mindsets that people have right now. So you've learned a little bit about your panel. Now they're going to for the rest of their time, talk a little bit about how they've influenced culture at the bank. So let's learn more about DataBank and what they do to provide you that context.
JP: [00:05:50] Yeah, I can I can give you guys a quick overview. So we're a data center company. We operate large facilities that has thousands of servers that run all sorts of mission critical applications for companies and power, everything that's growing on the Internet today from e-commerce to this video conferencing site and session. These facilities are generally hundreds of thousands of square feet in size. They have massive amounts of security and power and cooling to protect all those servers. And we own and operate 65 data centers in 28 markets across the country, which we like to say is more data centers and more metros than any other US provider. And that footprint of facilities really allows customers to take their data on these mission critical applications and put them out there as close as possible to end users within 100 miles of 60% of the US population. And so that's really critical for faster performance. And the company is backed by several large private equity companies and institutional investors, infrastructure investors, data centers, and in particular, just the whole I.T. infrastructure space in general are a very fast growing segment of the economy, and that growth only accelerated over the last couple of years as a result of the pandemic. And so many businesses and life processes sort of going online. And so we've made a number of acquisitions over the last few years and are today about 750 employees a little bit more. And that's up from about 300. The last time I sat down with you guys two years ago. So going pretty quickly for sure.
Alex: [00:07:31] So we're about to put forth this beautiful picture of everything you've built, but we know that there's a lot of businesses facing unique challenges right now. So before we talk about what you've done, how are things going right now? Are you caught up in any of the business concerns that others are facing right now?
Paul: [00:07:49] No doubt, Absolutely. So, certainly we know the last few years has been has presented business leaders with unprecedented number of simultaneous challenges right in this. And it's, I say, unprecedented in this modern era, really. Right. So we've seen a pandemic. We've seen the great resignation, which is still playing out. I think we've seen gyrating capital markets, spiking inflation, which we're right in the middle of. And hopefully, God willing, it's going to start leveling off and coming down. But throw on top of that, supply chain shortages, climate disasters, and throw in there a war in the European continent. Right. So, again, we've got almost a perfect storm right now for organizations and systems with people. Right. And DataBank is in the business of building these massive facilities. Right. That cost hundreds of millions of dollars. We consume massive amounts of power. And oh, by the way, we employ technology workers, right. With highly sought after skills. So we are kind of right smack in the middle of this confluence of all of these trends and things that are happening. Right. So so we've definitely felt the impact. And I believe and I think JP would echo my sentiments, that we've really weathered this storm better than many in our in our space because of the cultural foundations that that we laid down and the way we went about doing it is really important. And that's what we want to share with all of you today. So we created an additional layer of, I think, organizational resiliency that has given our leaders and our our business overall the freedom and the confidence to make smart long term decisions and just be more strategic rather than having to be reactive. When you start to see attrition go up, let's just say. Right. So so we've created that kind of a bedrock that we can fall back on through the through the cultural. Programs that we're going to talk about.
Alex: [00:09:56] Yeah. So I think without further ado, let's turn to what you did and what advice you have for organizations that are also looking to preserve and advance culture during these times of rapid change. So can you tell us more about the approach you took to build that cultural foundation?
JP: [00:10:15] Sure. So prior to joining DataBank full time, Paul and I were as consultants, as I mentioned, had pioneered this methodology for aligning brand and culture, especially for companies that were going under rapid change or going through rapid change. And in particular as a result of M&A. And that methodology really involved three steps. One, you have to understand the culture really well. Two, you have to be able to communicate what what that culture means, and three, you got to operationalize it. And so that first step is understanding. And culture is an intangible asset. You can't touch it. You can't hold it in your hand, but everybody can sense it in an organization. And so you have to make it tangible for people. And we chose to do that by using a survey tool called Culture Talk that actually measures the dominant archetypes or characters of a culture and architecture made famous by the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung at the turn of the last century. And they're just a wonderful and simple way, sort of a shortcut for understanding a culture, because everyone recognizes these characters. They're almost genetically imprinted in us from tens of thousands of years of storytelling, and they're pervasive in advertising and media today. And so in our case, this survey revealed that DataBanks dominant cultural characters were the hero, the caregiver and the sage. And there were others that showed up. But those are the three dominant ones. And each of those characters has a set of sort of behaviors and attitudes, both Good and Shadow, we call them, and they help you to understand and to consciously and intentionally nurture a culture because you can reward the positive traits while trying to minimize and keep an eye out for the negative traits that are that are going to commonly show up. So, for instance, cultures dominated by heroes and caregivers are incredibly driven. They will go above and beyond to get the job done, and they're also prone to burning out, which a lot of people have experienced in the last couple of years. And how you handle those two archetypes is very different. Heroes have to win. They have to slay a dragon. There needs to be victory. There should be a reward. There needs to be some closure that feels like they they've actually won. Caregivers just sort of need to be recognized and thanked and then they're kind of re-energized. And so, again, this archetypal framework was just about developing a deeper understanding of who we were so that we could go forward and intentionally nurture it. So that was the first step.
Alex: [00:12:46] Got it. So the first step about really understanding who you are now, you went through a very intentional process. You identify these these archetypes. Not everyone will necessarily have the bandwidth to get take a step back and do that understanding. So for someone who isn't prepared to do it, what do you think is the most important thing for them to do before they really build on their culture?
JP: [00:13:10] Well, I think before you do any culture development work, you need to make sure you got some executive buy in to the idea that your culture is going to be the most durable and unique competitive advantage. I think without that, nothing you do will necessarily come across as authentic and then you need some mechanism for regularly engaging and listening to your people and to understand what's really important to them. What are the behaviors and attitudes that they're truly committed to. You've got to have that executive buy in. You've got to have some level of understanding to however you choose to do it, whether that's to go out and do some informal conversations, create groups that do roundtables, make sure you do that, and that you continue to do that over time so that you have some visibility into it and that your executives are committed to it. I think those those to me would be the two most important things.
Alex: [00:13:58] Got it. Making sure if you if you need to shortcut that you're not shortcutting the executive buy in and the real solidifying that alignment within your executive team. So you guys are going to talk about understanding the culture, communicating a common language, and operationalizing the desired culture. I'll be the last part of our conversation. So we talked about understanding and what you did next. Let's move on to that communication, communication of a common language. How did you establish that and what did you do?
Paul: [00:14:27] Yes, so that's where I'll take that one. That's where I come in. Right. And one of the beautiful advantages of this archetypal framework that we are talking about here is in addition to giving us a deeper understanding of our culture, the power of focusing on archetypes is that they create that common language that JP was referring to. For everyone to not only understand each other, but to connect to the organization and create that kind of common fabric that will bind the culture together and people. So at the end of the day, knowing your organization's archetypes and the behaviors and attitudes that are behind them, that's going to enable you to communicate your cultural norms and your values in a more effective and meaningful way. People will just be. Be able to connect to those more readily because they recognize themselves through these archetypes. Right. And this is kind of where I think a lot of organizations tend to fall flat, is they try to do these cultural transformations or these very large scale trend transitions using a small group of leaders, and they don't really have a deep understanding that can span the entire organization, right? They pull together people who maybe have a little bit more of a myopic view. So but in our case, the way we sort of combated that was we gave everybody an opportunity to participate in the archetypal survey. We had really good uptake on that. From there we brief the organization on the outcome. Right? And and then people became familiar and started to hear more messaging around what are the archetypes, what are the behaviors that we expect around them, and how do we just show up every day and act as a as an organization so they could recognize themselves in them? And then that meant that we were able to hang the messaging and cultural values off of those. And it just landed in a more personal way for everybody. So so really, we took a step by step approach. And one of the first messages in communicating that was around our cult, what we call our cultural cornerstones, and they were putting people first, being data centered and inspiring confidence and. Right. And no big surprise that these all mapped back to our archetypes in the Care giver, the sage in the hero that JP started to describe, and that you can see in the posters that are on screen right now. So in this way, the whole model of understanding your culture and communicating it just works hand in hand and it can be a lot more effective.
Alex: [00:17:12] Yeah. So you talked about how heroes want to slay the dragons. Your design literally has slaying a dragon in there to really appeal to those folks that level. So you clearly brought these three archetypes to life in the cultural cornerstones and how you visually displayed them. But JP, I know there was some additional messaging that you developed to take it to that next level beneath the cultural cornerstones. Can you speak to that a little bit?
JP: [00:17:35] Yeah, Yeah. We in addition to those three cultural cornerstones of Paul mentioned, we developed sort of an additional layer or set of what we call leadership behaviors. And these were, we believe, crucial for an organization that was going through Amanda and experiencing a lot of change. And these include things like taking extreme ownership and collaborating before you escalate, because we wanted to be able to preserve that entrepreneurial spirit we had as a small company initially and push authority down into the organization, create a sense of ownership so people feel like they have agency and then to other attitudes, assuming positive intent and choosing trust and respect were added. Because we know in times of of rapid change, like when you're going through a merger or acquisition or going through the integration that happens afterwards, there's going to be a disagreements about how things are done. And that's okay. But we're all trying to do the right thing for the customer. And so before we pass judgment, let's let's stop. Let's pause before we judge and react kind of with grace. Right. And and try to just recognize that everybody's trying to do the right thing here. So those were a couple of additional behaviors that became part of the messaging framework, not directly tied to the archetypes, but still important given where where we were in our in our growth trajectory.
Alex: [00:18:50] Yeah, I love how you've defined it. I think that the balance of take extreme ownership with also collaborate before you escalate really sends the message of what leadership would want someone to do, even if leadership isn't in the room. So really great in regards to definition. So we've talked about the first stages. Understanding the second stage is communicating and getting that common language. Now let's shift to that final step, which is operationalizing the culture. This is the piece that I think a lot of organizations struggle with. They know who they want to be, but how do you get that messaging built into the day to day? And this is the part where we also got to partner with you. So can you speak more about operationalizing?
Paul: [00:19:33] Yeah, sure, I'll take that one. So so, yeah, this is where Reward Gateway comes into play here. And it was just such a fantastic kind of marriage because once we had rolled out the culture cornerstones and the leadership behaviors, we really needed something to gain traction and stickiness around that and we needed engagement. Right? So you talked about employee engagement. So we had to find a way to bring all of this to life in more than just posters and leaders showing up at our various sites across the country, etc.. Right. So so when JP discovered you folks and. We started looking at your platform, we realized this was our this was going to be our place. This was going to be our hook. And what we ended up doing was we ended up customizing a portal which you folks offer, and we called it the DataBank vault. And the vault has become our basically our cultural town square, if you will. And and it was critical because we were growing so quickly, we were so geographically dispersed across our 30 sites and our cities excuse me, and then throw COVID into the mix. Right? So so we had everybody working from home who were not essential workers who had to be in a data center right. So the vault quickly became the place where we were able to connect people with things like a major organizational announcements and happenings with regular blogs and news from our leaders and highlights of the people side of our organization.
Paul: [00:21:21] We announce employee resource group activities up there like DEI, and we have a culture corps of volunteers who create events in various things, right? We also throw up their fun biweekly polls that give us a window into what our employees are thinking beyond work. So we make them fun and engaging. And it's just it's a nice way to just take a pulse, right? And then and then we also provide links to HR resources up there. And one of the nice things that Reward Gateway is brought to us through this platform, which we highly encourage, is the discounts at major retailers and a vast trove of major retailers across across the US. And and we offer discounts you guys offer discounts which our employees have saved. We just did the tally today over $2,300 a year to date which look it's also helped a little bit in this time of high inflation. Right. So so it's just another thing that says, hey, we come together and we can offer you some benefits that are outside of the HR things, right?
Alex: [00:22:39] Yeah, yeah, yeah. So you've definitely plugged in a lot of things in here. You've got internal resources, you've got and people can go as they scroll down and find all of those pieces, right, the discounts, the communications from leadership. But also one of the things that I know you've really used to operationalize your culture is the recognition. So in fact, not just not just one way, but really a multi layered recognition program that you've built into the vault. Can you talk a little bit about the different layers of that recognition?
Paul: [00:23:16] Yeah, absolutely. This is something that we're really proud of and we really emphasize particularly this year, right? So when JP and I first arrived at DataBank, there was no company wide recognition program in place, right? So you just it was up to the various departments to recognize their staff periodically and whatever ad hoc fashion email or maybe there was a little gift or they create an event, which is, which is great, right? But, but when you're building a culture and your culture is foundationally about heroes, right? Heroes who will slay the dragon, recognition becomes a lever and a multiplier that is just incredible. Right? So so we had the archetypal understanding of our culture in place, right. And the messaging behind it. And so we knew we had the foundation for a strong recognition platform. So one of the things that you folks helped us do is create this multi tiered level of recognition. And and at the top, I'm going to start at the top. Right at the top, we have our largest reward or recognition, and that's a nomination based award called the DataBank Way. And again, it's grounded in in our archetypes, it's grounded in our behaviors and our cultural cornerstones. And it's really about people nominating others and providing these feel good stories each quarter, right, where somebody has truly exhibited the cornerstones and the behaviors and demonstrated those. Right. And then the our executive team, our top executive team reviews all of them. Sometimes we get upwards of 10 to 15 of these things, which is fantastic, right? The hardest part is selecting one. This is all wonderful stories. But look, the other benefit of that also is the narrative or the storytelling that you want to have in your organization, and it lives on. So these things are in perpetuity. Once we announce them and people and new hires can go and look at them, right? So that's the top level. The next level down is where we where we empower our our leaders or managers to award the cultural cornerstones and the leadership behaviors on the vault as e-cards. And they have a small cash award with them. It's nothing too great, but at the same time, it comes from a leader in the organization. So what that does is it models the behavior that we want from leaders, recognizing people, but it also gives all of the employees examples of living these values every day. Right. And and we know that peer to peer recognition means even more than manager recognition, right? So we then provide the next layer down. And this is totally ad hoc. Anybody can go in and recognize anybody else on a day to day basis, Right. For these same behaviors. Or maybe they just want to send a thank you or a happy birthday, right? It's just a small gesture, right? But it's a win win because the person who receives it obviously feels good. And the person who's sending it feels good. Right? So and that covers the bottom one as well. Right. So we have the kudos which are the thank you's for maybe something you did. And then we have what we call the high fives, which are just the day to day. Hey, welcome to the team. Happy birthday. Or maybe you got promoted or whatever, excuse me, promoted or whatever. Right. So this is where you folks have reward. Gateway really helped us build this and create this multi level recognition platform that we have just seen the numbers take off this year especially. So it's been fantastic.
Alex: [00:27:23] Well, and I think with each of these layers you're building in those cornerstones, those leadership behaviors, so that when an employee sends another employee a kudo, they're sending it. You're using that great image. You can send someone an E card as an employee that's not monetary, that's got that slaying the dragon image on it. Managers can send money that's associated with that. And then, of course, and you can see in the pyramid, the further up you go, the higher the impact, but also the little more scarce Those are, right. So we have the abundance at the bottom and then the things to get people talking at the top. So we just had Paul share with us the different layers of recognition that they have within their organization, everything from day to day to those quarterly, bigger deal recognitions. One of the things we wanted to do is reach out and ask people listening, what are you currently doing for recognition? Are you someone that doesn't really have anything organized yet in your organization? Do you have it that it's different between groups? Do you have a centralized program but you have not yet built your values or your cornerstones that common language in? Or do you have a centralized program that is values based, that uses that shared common language to reinforce that culture using recognition? So vote on that. And also, this is a good reminder that if you have any questions so far, there is that Q&A tab. That you can be putting questions into that we will get to at the end. Let us know what you see in regards to what you have for recognition. Nothing. Organized. Centralized, values based. It's centralized. Yeah. Everybody can participate in it, but we haven't yet integrated that common language or different between groups. So give that a minute to put that in there and we'll see where people stand before we move on. All right. Looks like it's a head to head between the centralized program that is values based and also between nothing organized. So we're kind of at opposite ends of the spectrum there. So hopefully everybody is learning a little something about what you can do to support in either case. So we talked about the structure of recognition, which is as this recognition is being passed along and you've really built quite a a day to day engine within your organization. You've got the individuals that are getting recognized, but it also, as you've mentioned, creates a really fantastic storytelling engine that really is collecting these legends about what heroes are doing every day. So can you talk a little bit more about the storytelling and how that's affected your culture?
JP: [00:30:06] Sure. I'll take this one. So the especially the DataBank way award, right, that top of the pyramid, because it usually involves someone who has done something truly above and beyond. Right. Either for a customer or a fellow DataBank or both. For instance, in Q1 of this year, our winner was a critical facilities technician who, without being asked, drove overnight for 8 hours to assist another data center manager at a remote market who had been working without backup for 20 hours and to was working through a complicated equipment maintenance project. So this particular individual arrived on site, gave the data center manager a break so he could go get some sleep and coordinated. All the vendors just stepped right in to complete that project and and really just complete a really complicated situation, really just doing things the DataBank way, right, taking care of somebody else, taking extreme ownership. All of those values are in that story. And it was just a great, great example for other people to kind of aspire to. Another winning nomination we had last year was recognized a data center manager who had helped the customer who was making an emergency move into one of our facilities, and it required him to be onsite on very short notice on a Sunday and then 32 straight hours after that through Monday and Tuesday, to make sure the customer was up and running and that in time for a big event that they had going on. So these are just a few of the standout stories that we see each quarter, but there are small examples happening every day as well. So it's not just about these big ones.
Alex: [00:31:46] Yeah. Let's talk a little bit more about the daily habit of recognition, because those big stories are really impressive. I can imagine if I'm working and I'm feeling a little like, Man, I've got a lot on my plate. I can say to myself, Well, yeah, but I'm inspired by my colleague that drove to a different state. But can you talk a little bit more about how recognition has really become a daily habit as well?
Paul: [00:32:07] Yeah, I'll take that one. So so we constantly are driving people to the vault and you guys, by helping us customize and set up the vault, really have made it so easy to operate, operationalize a culture of recognition, right? So every day where we're publishing blog articles or news about the organization, which is incredibly interesting, you go in and on that home page, you see all this recognition flowing in, right? You see all of these people who are recognizing their peers or somebody in on their team or in another department. That's been the amazing thing is you think that it really just is kind of interesting or inter team. It's actually across the department, all departments in the organization. So it's been great watching that. People just build an organically doing this on a regular basis and it brings that that archetypal behavior to life. Right. And and it also leads the way and provides examples for other people. Right? So if you're not, you're not a big sender of recognition, but let's say you get a couple in a month, you're going to be more likely to say, you know what, I'm going to go do that. I'm going to pay it forward, or I'm going to go do that for somebody else. Right? So it's it's very organic and viral and kind of builds on itself. Right. And that's really how during this pandemic, when everybody was away from the office, we were able to continue to nurture and bring our culture to life and successfully integrate another aspect of our business, which is acquisitions, right? We've made a series of acquisitions since JP and I have been here. We've doubled the size of the company in one of them two years ago now. So we couldn't have ever done that without this platform in place. And all of the foundation, the bedrock that we built around the behaviors and the norms. So yeah, it would have been incredibly hard to do that.
Alex: [00:34:14] Yeah. So you've been really gracious about how the establishment of the technology is this digital town Square has really helped. But I think in a lot of cases when people look at putting forth an initiative or establishing a new way of communicating within an organization, there's this fear of will it last and am I going to get this all set up? And then people aren't going to come play in the playbacks in the sandbox with me like I want. So that's where I think you guys have really done a fabulous job of of reinforcing this over time and building it over time. Can you speak to what you've done to ensure that this was a sustainable method of keeping people connected and recognized?
John: [00:34:56] Yeah.
JP: [00:34:56] Well, let me jump in by saying I think we did a lot of work up front to make sure that the senior leadership team here was fully bought into this strategy of investing heavily in the culture before we embarked on this effort. And we learned how to how to. And this had come partly from our consulting background. How do you speak to senior executives about kind of these topics? And one of the points we made is that culture is absolutely our most durable and unique competitive advantage. I mean, competitors can go out and build data centers just like ours, right, in the same markets using the same technology. The one thing they don't have is our people. And so you've got to you've got to make that a competitive advantage. And it's the it's the most more unique than anything else we have. And then another point we made, and this is key for anybody in the audience who is trying to make the case for deep culture work, and especially really in any company, but especially in one that's private equity backed, right, where there's a focus on the sort of the return on the investment is that on average 50% of what there was a KPMG report I used to use as an example all the time and they said on average 50% of the purchase price of a company is allocated to an intangible asset called goodwill. And what is that? It's basically your culture and your brand. And so the argument was like, spend a little bit of time, money and on focusing on that thing and not just the systems and the other stuff that we all always focus on in, in an M&A environment, because the return you can get on it is huge.
Paul: [00:36:38] Yeah. So that's right. And I want to echo actually something else. I want to build upon that. Right? So the key is the senior leadership, right? And having them be incredibly supportive, which we were so lucky to have that in our situation. Right. So when it comes to culture, having that critical linkage and starting there is really the key. I think culture is typically formed bottom up. It's just how how a group of people come together and create a climate within an organization. But beyond that, nurturing it and kind of guiding it to where you really can have it be the most effective for you is about leadership, right? So we devote a lot of time to making sure our leaders at every level understand the culture, understand the behaviors, and are committed to reinforcing them and modeling them. Right. So so part of this is about transparency. So making sure that you share results of surveys like we do it all employee survey, right? Where we ask them to tell us the good, the bad and the ugly. And I would imagine that most of our listeners today probably do something similar, right? So it's about it's about that old adage of what gets measured gets done. So being transparent when you're measuring in terms of the results and then and then using a platform like the vault, like Reward Gateways platform. Right. Is an amazing tool to enable that. Right. So not only do we put our all employee survey through the vault, but we turn around and we communicate the results and we give people access to the unvarnished comments like the whole survey is right there for them to go through and read. Right. We also we also run these stats that you see on the screen here, and we share them with our leadership team. Every month I hold meetings with with the top leaders. I take them through their stats and and I call them out in some cases where I think they can be doing a better job to say reinforce recognition. Right. I will show a report of every leader in the organization and how much recognition they've sent. And oh, if you're in that meeting and you haven't sent any, I'm going to ask you why. Right. So you've got to be courageous. But I think people. And leaders appreciate that. And it just reinforces the behaviors that you're expecting from them as leaders. Right. And then now so. So really, I think what I'm trying to say is a lot of what this is about is really what I call the parish priest, where it's getting out there every day, talking to staff, talking to leaders, championing the ideals that are behind your culture, looking for opportunities to message them and reinforce them. And, you know, there's no magic here, as I think with probably rumbling around in a lot of our listeners minds is how long does it take? Well, this is this is a marathon. It's not a sprint. But if you stay committed to it and you keep doing it, I like to use this phrase, you block the exits. Right? People typically with things like cultural endeavors or campaigns, they think, okay, it's the flavor of the day. The next leader that comes in, it's going to change or they won't be able to sustain this over time. So who's got the longer lasting there. Well, they see it continuously. They see you put energy. And oh, by the way, the CEO puts resources behind it. They hire a person like me that makes it real. And you just keep taking a step every day, every month, every year, and you keep nurturing that culture, and then it becomes second nature for folks.
Alex: [00:40:52] Yeah, I know we should. When we look at the results you've achieved, just to kind of point out what's here. You've got 98% recognition engagement. You've got you can see the trend in the blue and green lines, the trend upward with some spikes at holiday time in 2020 with Employee appreciation month and in the last year all driving increased usage. So all you've done to walk the walk and talk the talk has made a really big difference. And I know. JP You've really seen evidence that it's changing mindsets as well, that in one of your workshops somebody shared the perspective.
JP: [00:41:27] Yeah, yeah. And a lot of this is testament to Paul kind of driving it into the rest of the organization, getting down into those teams and doing that sort of parish priest work. But, but taking these archetype surveys, using them with teams and individuals so that they have a deeper understanding and see how their own attitudes and behaviors tie back to the archetypes. And in one of those examples, we had a long time leader here after one of those workshops who said that this was the best meeting she had she had been at. It was just with their with their with their leadership team and with that group of leaders in that particular department in nine years. That was the best meeting she had ever had. And and the quote was, I think that that was the moment we went from being a team on paper to a team on purpose. And that's how powerful this stuff is. If you really take it seriously, if you spend the time, if you go out into the into the field and you you talk to people and you're authentic and you understand who you are, and these behaviors are brought to life in a way that is contextually relevant for people. And they see it every day. You know, it's you can't help but feel it and recognize it and then start to live it.
Paul: [00:42:33] So I've got an even I've got an even better one, right? So we had a person who was high up in the sales organization, incredibly successful, and he flat out told us that this culture stuff you guys are doing is great, but he thinks it's BS, for lack of a better phrase, right? Well, he just so happened to get some kudos and he started to somehow figure out the fact that by sending recognition and by creating that goodwill, you build bridges in the organization with people. Right. And you need to rely on those bridges during the year maybe for getting sales done and getting some big installations at our data centers done. And oh, by the way, he just he now is our number one recognition center in sales. And he admitted he wants a plaque now with his picture. That is definitely one of our better success stories.
Alex: [00:43:34] Right. You outlasted the doubters, which I think is hard.
Alex: [00:43:39] To argue with culture and with recognition. And as long as you can keep it going long enough that you go from early adopters to a larger percentage of the organization, which clearly you've done seeing the numbers on the screen, you get all of those benefits and you get a lot less push back. So speaking of keeping it sustained and making it sustainable, you talked a lot about speaking up and using the analytics, but what else? What are the some other things that you've done, Paul, to make it sustainable so that you've seen this success?
Paul: [00:44:12] Yeah. So, so sustainability is the key, right? And as I mentioned, it's a marathon. It's not a sprint, right? And you're not going away. That's, that's the key, right? You continue to pump energy and messaging into this. So, so the vault and the recognition programs that we offer up, they're probably the most visible way that we operationalize our culture. And again, it's been organic. I mean, we have fed it, but it's now been organic and it's taken on a life of its own right. But we needed to, we need, we knew that we needed to go deeper. And we've done that in a couple of different ways. So so as I mentioned, one of the biggest ways is we leverage the vault as our primary cultural survey platform and we conduct that biannually. So twice a year we do the all employee survey, right? We also do health check surveys using the vault, and we do what we call our NPS, right? A lot of people may be familiar with NPS Net Promoter Score. We do Reward Gateway offers a beautifully canned version of that for employees. So we do a rolling quarterly employee NPS survey and it gives it gives our employees the opportunity to just give us a quick one out of ten rating and then give us some some comments. And that's a great way to then reinforce the big themes you see in the Twice annual employee survey. Are you seeing them on a quarterly basis or are you seeing something different? So you might get an indicator. So that's the first way. The second way that we've been reinforcing this is through performance reviews and leadership development. So we are in the process of modifying our performance reviews to really measure how effectively and consistently all our employees demonstrate these archetypal behaviors and attitudes and the culture cornerstones, right. And that are at the heart of our culture. We also in addition to that, we developed a specific tool to have leaders peer review of their leaders across the organization and basically measure how well these leaders are integrating the DataBank way into their leadership style. Right. So it's a great mechanism with which you can it's almost like a 360, but it's within the leadership community to say, Hey, how do we think we're doing as leaders? Right? And where where can our leaders develop and improve? But in both cases, we're able to use data from the vault to measure these things, right? Including how many recognitions and an employee or a leader has sent or received. It just shows how are they really actually walking the walk. And then third is the individual and team development. So we're we're using the archetypal framework down into the organization. Right? And we're allowing individuals to quantify their own personal archetypes. So so we're rolling out the culture talk archetype assessment and we're letting teams take that and then come together as a team and having these amazing conversations about who am I as a person, how do I work, what are my strengths, what am I shadow traits that you might see on a top day? And I can put that into context. And oh, by the way, I can link that to our culture and our and our behaviors and our norms and our values. So that's those are the three main ways that that we've been reinforcing the overall company, culture and brand. And then there's one other aspect where we're using this that I think everybody on this call is probably interested in, which is recruiting talent, right? And so when you have a strong understanding of your culture and the behaviors you're looking for, you basically have the ingredients for hiring, right? And we're able to screen for the right kind of talent by having candidates take the archetypal survey, by building in our cultural norms and our expected behaviors right into the job descriptions. Right. And then our our managers and our leaders, when when they're doing interviews, they can prompt them for asking the right behavioral type interview questions, right to to take it beyond just the skills and the technical abilities that we want. Okay. So and then one little added bonus I'm going to throw in here, right. Which is having the ability to show our hiring our candidates, especially some of the potential key ones, the vault and all that, all the energy we put behind the culture. Really just again, it's a multiplier. Just it's so attractive to them, especially at the leadership levels and above, because they know they're walking into an organization that values this and they know that their support and energy behind it so that they can lead their teams when they hopefully sign on to database.
Alex: [00:49:40] Yeah. I will say the other thing too, about having all of that documented great storytelling. We've seen a lot of clients be really successful with recruiting by grabbing those stories and just sharing them out and saying like, Oh, you want to know what it's like to work in one of our facilities here. Seven examples of people being recognized and now they're inspired. They want to be a part of the team and they know they're going to get credit for it. So obviously, you know, we talk about operationalizing culture. You really just put on a clinic on how to in those three steps, starting with understanding, communicating out that common language and then integrating it in to so many different parts of what you do. So hopefully we've really inspired folks with maybe there's some things you are doing, but I'm willing to bet you haven't thought of everything that that way. People and DataBank have. If as we talk about inspiration, we're going to turn to questions. And we do have one more poll in just a moment that we want to share. But before we do, I just wanted to say, if you're looking for ongoing inspiration on this journey, you can tell Paul and JP have taken quite a journey, right? We're hearing the outcomes of it, but there's a lot that they've done to keep you inspired on that journey. I recommend you go to our rg.co/blog. We have communicated out about the success of DataBank in this blog before. We've shared a case study of them as well as lots of other clients across our 2500 clients across the world. We're sharing out what they're doing that's working to support all kinds of cultural engagement initiatives. So go sign up for our blog. I'm really proud of the work we put out there and the ideas we share. All right. So I definitely before we launch the Paul one poll, I want to make sure I say thank you to Paul and JP who really prepared and came together with this story of how they've built this foundation and the resilience to make it through what continues to be a challenging environment for businesses. And what I want to do for our last poll here is just share which areas need the most focus for your company. Now that you've heard that story right Before we get to Q&A, do you feel like for you, you need to you need to put your focus into understanding the existing culture that you want to know? What are the the types of folks that work for you? What are the cornerstones that you shouldn't leave or what are the pieces that leadership should be backing? Is it more about communicating more or better? Is it about establishing that common language? You may have values, but often when people have these conversations, they discover their values aren't as inspiring as they'd hoped or aren't as well known or hoped, or maybe just aren't building the kinds of actions and behavior you need in 2022. Is it communicating out about that common language or is it operationalizing culture that you've got a core that's working really well, but you need to make sure that all of your managers are on the same page, all of your employees are getting credit when they do it. Well, where would you say you fall in regards to these three areas? As we wait a minute for people to address that, We'll also turn to questions in just a moment so that we can get a little bit more value from JP and Paul before we log off. So put any questions and that you've got. All right. Well, it's coming out as a pretty much a tie for all three areas. So clearly, that framework is very helpful. And hopefully giving it those words will help people. You can take that to leadership and say, I think before we move forward with some of these things, we need to better understand. We need to better communicate a common language or we need to operationalize. And it's all great ideas, but it's not worth a lot if we don't do something with it. So I think we definitely have time for some questions. So, John, if you could help us out with what are some of the things that we should be responding to before we adjourn?
John: [00:53:34] Absolutely. Well, I want to take this question here from Peter. He asks, What role do purpose and values play in your framework at DataBank?
Alex: [00:53:43] Yeah. So you spoke about words like core cultural cornerstones. But I know that purpose was a word you used a great deal as part of this formation and the word values.
JP: [00:53:53] I'll take a stab at this first. So. Yeah. Purpose is is a big deal for us. We didn't specifically cover it on a slide in here, but there is a there's a whole framework that we turn to to define the company's purpose. And we actually did this with the senior leadership team in advance of all of the beginning, all the culture work, and that that framework was sort of an alternative to mission vision values, something I call purpose, way and impact. And it's sort of three stages of a rocket. It's just an easier way to tell a story around this stuff. A lot of people don't know the difference in mission and vision and how the values tie into it. So it was just an easier framework for us to to use. And the most important thing was that out of that, that first stage of the rocket, the purpose why is a company exists for us was all about really removing the worry for clients associated with this very mission critical applications and things that we are managing for them that they're putting in our data centers. That's the most important thing. And that was a really good foundational message because all the archetypal stuff tied back into that. And when you think about it, for a company whose job is to to remove the worry around managing mission critical infrastructure, to turn to a partner who's very hero driven culture is going to do whatever it takes to serve and protect right that system and is backed up by by caregivers. Right. Who are doing this on behalf of the customer and and are very data centered, which is a sage. Right. And it's very transparent and numbers driven. That is exactly sort of the mix of of cultural behaviors and attitudes that you want for that purpose. So there was a lot of alignment that we went through to both understand not only the culture and understand our purpose, but to link these two, these two things together. So that would be sort of my answer to that.
Alex: [00:55:41] Yeah. And I think that you may, the common language you used leadership behaviors and cultural cornerstones. But everything that Paul said about using common language would also apply if you've got values.
John: [00:55:54] Absolutely. Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. I've got another question for our panel. Who owns culture at DataBank HR Or marketing.
Paul: [00:56:08] That's a great question.
JP: [00:56:10] I will. Obviously, we all own it, right? Because we're all contributors to it. So this is very different. Prior to coming here, Paul and I had a philosophy which was that brand and culture really belong together and that they span the marketing and the HR functions. And luckily, the leadership team here really allowed us to build on that. So and because your culture is so communications driven and a lot of ways, it sort of makes sense for for marketing to be involved in it because there are in most organizations, sort of the communications experts. Right. And so for that reason, it's really a shared responsibility when we have a very, very close partnership with HR. We're all in this together. We consider ourselves part of a combined culture team. The other argument, I would say in favor of HR organizations getting marketing involved in the in the culture piece of this is that there's a lot of energy and attention going into to marketing these days. Right. There's generally a lot of budget that goes into the marketing function. There's a lot of tools. Every CMO is almost becoming a data analyst now at this point. And so leveraging that as an as an HR organization and tapping into that can be a really beneficial thing as well. So hopefully that kind of gives you a sense we drive it here. I take a sense of sort of executive ownership, but it is there's a lot of people involved here, including the rest of the leadership team, and it's a very close partnership between marketing and HR here.
Alex: [00:57:47] Anything else on that one, Paul?
Paul: [00:57:51] No, I would say the kind of the coy answer would be something that JP had on beginning. Really. The leadership team at the end of the day owns this. We are facilitators. But at the end of the day, you need your leadership team to really own this, to buy in and believe in it, and then they have to model it. Right. You can't have words without action. So that's the only thing I would add to that.
Alex: [00:58:17] Yeah. And we are actually seeing a lot as people come to us and say we need to be better internal communicators, We need to reflect what we're telling the marketplace to our people. We need to make sure that our values are being lived so that what we externally say is going to be true. We do see that in a lot of cases. We have people approach us at reward gateway to build this digital workspace using HR But there's often we do hear from folks that say, listen, I'm the head marketer and I've got this budget. And in order for what I'm saying to be true, I need us to be better at recognizing, communicating, living our values. And then my job externally will be that much easier. So as Karina said in the chat, there's collaboration happening there.
John: [00:58:59] It looks like we have one more question here. How can you drive leadership, buy in to a culture of focus?
Paul: [00:59:08] That's that's the key question. I'll take that one. So so the way we do it, two ways, which I mentioned throughout this one is holding them accountable. Right. And making sure that they know that it's important. It's being driven from the top. Right. And it's expected. And then you have to define what the expectations are. So having the culture meetings every month, showing the statistics, kind of calling them out for modeling or not modeling, that's one way. And then the second way is you got to get them to experience it themselves. They have to be like in the case of recognition, they have to be willing to go in and try it and then hopefully they see the benefit in it themselves and the value around retaining talent and engaging employees through tough times. Right. Things like that. And then over time, hopefully they become a convert and then they just do it organically. So those are really the two ways that you can drive value in on this type of thing.
John: [01:00:18] All right. It looks like we don't have any more questions, so we will wrap up here. I want to thank Alex, JP and Paul for taking the time to educate us today. And I want to thank everyone who has joined us for this webinar. The recording will be available on HRD America in 2 to 3 business days from now. And if you haven't already, please sign up for our HRD America newsletter, which comes out twice a week. I'm John Corrigan signing off.
Paul: [01:00:48] Thank you.
JP: [01:00:48] Thank you, guys.