How Do KPIs Affect Your Company Culture?

A while back I attended the Cloud CEO Summit hosted by Byron Deeter of Bessemer and John Somorjai core valuesof Salesforce Ventures.  It was a really fun event at Cavallo Point Lodge with ridiculously fantastic views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Since I love metrics, I attended the KPI breakout with a half dozen other CEOs where we were discussing our philosophy on metrics.  I found myself strongly disagreeing with one CEO who thought it was great to stack rank everyone’s performance and display it publicly. That’s because we have the value of “team first” at Full Circle. We believe we can create a great company where we each perform to our best ability but try to help the other team members also perform to their best.  We back each other up.

When I was at Oracle in the late 80’s, the philosophy of the company was to value the individual over the group. Some people (like me) thought this competitive environment was great but most people didn’t. Oracle did a wonderful job in hiring very competitive people who would compete for the top rankings in the company to get the biggest bonuses and commissions. And the bonuses were very skewed to the top performers to reinforce this point.

We have a different philosophy at Full Circle.  We want competitive people but we also want to operate as a team. We want to make each other better. Like a great football or basketball team, or two doubles partners in tennis, we believe if we can meet and exceed our own personal goals, and make each other perform at the maximum we will have a great company.

I’m happy I had the chance to spend time at the Cloud CEO Summit because some of our key values that are core to our company culture became obvious to me sitting with the other CEOs. We are a firm believer in setting goals, writing them down and trying to meet or exceed them.  We do that in our V2MOM, the management device I borrowed from Salesforce.  Marc Benioff said in his discussion at the summit that when they write down their objectives in the V2MOM, they are pretty good at executing them particularly with regular reviews to the V2MOM. It seems that it’s just human nature.

But it turns out that how you handle KPIs can really affect your culture. Do you want to have an internally competitive culture?  If so, create programs that emphasize the individual over the group.  Do you want to have a team first culture? Then you use your KPIs in a different way to foster team efforts. I guess the most important thing is to be intentional because it seems that either choice can create a great company. But have a culture intentionally.

Bonnie Crater

About Bonnie Crater

Bonnie is a 5-time VP of Marketing at Genesys, Netscape, Oracle (Network Computer Inc.), Stratify, and VoiceObjects. While valuing the creative side of marketing, Bonnie's real love is marketing operations -- measuring marketing investments and determining investment optimization. Now as CEO of Full Circle Insights, Bonnie is working to help fellow marketers get the data needed to succeed. In 2000, Bonnie was named one of the “Top 20 Female Executives in Silicon Valley” by San Jose Magazine. Bonnie holds a B.A. in biology from Princeton University.