How to Scale Culture Company-Wide and Beyond

Pamela Mattsson of Outreach shares her methods for preserving culture at scale.

No mat­ter the size of the com­pa­ny, it’s impor­tant to cul­ti­vate lead­ers at the same pace that the com­pa­ny is scal­ing, and one way to do that is to curate and cod­i­fy what is con­sis­tent across a com­pa­ny cul­ture and pro­mote those who live the val­ues of that culture.

We recent­ly had Pamela Matts­son, SVP Peo­ple and Orga­ni­za­tion­al Devel­op­ment at Out­reach on the Brag­Wor­thy Cul­ture pod­cast to share her thoughts on scal­ing cul­ture both in and out of a pandemic.

Part of what informs Pamela’s approach to bring­ing back human doing, not just human being” to orga­ni­za­tions was her time at Ama­zon, dur­ing which the com­pa­ny grew from 150,000 team mem­bers to over 1.3M. Pamela char­ac­ter­izes the com­pa­ny not as a mono­lith, but real­ly as an umbrel­la of 10,000 star­tups. It was her expe­ri­ence try­ing to tie these many small­er orga­ni­za­tions into one com­mon set of val­ues that led in part to her role now at Outreach.

Out­reach is the first and only Sales Exe­cu­tion plat­form. It helps rev­enue teams:

  • Bring intel­li­gence to workflows
  • Unlock full vis­i­bil­i­ty across the entire rev­enue cycle
  • Com­mit fore­casts with confidence

Out­reach uses the pow­er of AI to inte­grate sales engage­ment, con­ver­sa­tion intel­li­gence, and rev­enue intel­li­gence into one platform.

Having Your Team Members’ Backs

One of the val­ues that Out­reach stands behind is the idea of hav­ing your back.” This doesn’t just cov­er when some­thing goes wrong; it’s also about cel­e­brat­ing suc­cess­es. When fail­ures come, Pamela and her team want to own those together.

While hav­ing someone’s back implies a one-way rela­tion­ship, for this val­ue to real­ly work, hon­esty and trans­paren­cy have to come from team mem­bers back to lead­er­ship as well, and that can be empow­ered by the com­pa­ny com­mu­ni­cat­ing as much as pos­si­ble. This ensures con­struc­tive feed­back that is not only frankly giv­en but grate­ful­ly received.

This is par­tic­u­lar­ly true dur­ing a pan­dem­ic or, as has more recent­ly been dis­cussed, a reces­sion. Pamela wants to make sure that all team mem­bers are lis­ten­ing and see­ing and think­ing about prob­lems togeth­er. This allows every­one to also take more risks, because the com­pe­ti­tion is seen as an exter­nal enti­ty, not some­thing among the team: con­cerns, issues, weak­ness­es, and risks can be raised with­out fear of reprisal.

Pandemic Challenges

While there was a sud­den shift to remote work in ear­ly 2020, over time peo­ple began to real­ize that there wasn’t a cor­re­spond­ing grasp of the new skill sets that need­ed to be devel­oped. It wasn’t just a ques­tion of learn­ing new tech­ni­cal skills (“you’re on mute!”) but of under­stand­ing that how you treat and man­age team mem­bers in online video chat is entire­ly dif­fer­ent from how you do the same in person.

There also need­ed to be a greater under­stand­ing of the wide vari­ety of remote work sit­u­a­tions. While some peo­ple might be liv­ing alone and have a pret­ty straight­for­ward remote work set­up, oth­ers might be in a clos­et and shush­ing a child before start­ing a meet­ing. Greater aware­ness of men­tal health and tell­tale signs of strain can help all team mem­bers to devel­op and deploy more empathy.

With the move to remote, there was less con­text to mak­ing hir­ing deci­sions, as the phys­i­cal pres­ence and body lan­guage of an in-per­son meet­ing were no longer avail­able. Pamela saw this as an oppor­tu­ni­ty to dou­ble down on rec­og­niz­ing uncon­scious bias, which could be a big­ger prob­lem in a remote hir­ing situation.

On the oth­er hand, as con­di­tions began to change and com­ing into the office was more viable, how could team mem­bers who did want to come into the office be accom­mo­dat­ed, while still main­tain­ing a link with those who want­ed to stay remote? These chal­lenges could only be met by everyone’s trans­paren­cy and open­ness and will­ing­ness to have each other’s back, real­iz­ing they were all in it together.

Living Company Values

Pamela real­izes that some peo­ple are going to move on, either for­ward in their career with oth­er com­pa­nies or pos­si­bly to an entire­ly new career and direc­tion. Her goal is to send peo­ple off well so that they can help lift up oth­er com­pa­nies as well, and in a way, spread Outreach’s val­ues even wider than with­in the orbit of its team mem­bers, ven­dors, and customers.

But Pamela wants peo­ple to stay, and part of that reten­tion is pro­mot­ing those who are most aligned with com­pa­ny val­ues, thus encour­ag­ing oth­er team mem­bers to see this as a path for pro­mo­tion as well.

One way to spread those val­ues effi­cient­ly is to make sure they are embed­ded in process­es all over the place. This doesn’t just mean hav­ing some­thing engraved in a lob­by; val­ues have to be expressed in the way KPIs are word­ed, cus­tomers are man­aged, or feed­back is given.

Employee Benefits

One of the expres­sions of com­pa­ny val­ues is the set of ben­e­fits that are offered. But some­times, team mem­bers have to be encour­aged to use those ben­e­fits. Lead­er­ship mat­ters here too! Pamela shared one spe­cif­ic exam­ple of the CEO who used a night doula on pater­ni­ty leave and made sure to post pic­tures and share them with oth­er team members. 

The prin­ci­ple here was that sleep mat­ters and that well-rest­ed team mem­bers are hap­pi­er and per­form bet­ter. That means using every resource avail­able, like a doula to assist with overnight child­care duties.

Some­times peo­ple need a friend­ly push to take ben­e­fits they are enti­tled to, and lead­ers need to be aware of that and empow­er oth­ers by shar­ing when­ev­er they use ben­e­fits themselves.

Check Out the Full Episode

You can learn more from our dis­cus­sion with Pamela Matts­son by lis­ten­ing to the pod­cast on Apple or Spo­ti­fy. She also talks about how her team has dou­bled down on aware­ness of uncon­scious bias to per­form bet­ter when hir­ing remote­ly. Pamela is big on val­ues and cul­ture being expressed in process­es and pro­ce­dures as well as in inter­views and mis­sion state­ments. That means that those who best reflect the com­pa­ny val­ues and cul­ture should be tar­get­ed for promotion.

Look­ing to build your own Brag­Wor­thy Cul­ture? Fringe can help. Fringe is the num­ber one lifestyle ben­e­fits mar­ket­place. Give your peo­ple the pow­er of choice and save a ton of admin­is­tra­tive headaches by con­sol­i­dat­ing exist­ing ven­dors and pro­grams into a sim­ple, auto­mat­ed plat­form. Talk to our team to get started.