As the “People Leader” at Acorio, I am incredibly proud that we are an industry leader and employer of choice in the ServiceNow ecosystem. I also know it’s no accident.
That’s because the Acorio team sees human capital as a top challenge and a key differentiator for our business. It’s the reason our best talent stays with the company, and why customers continue to work with us year after year, project after project.
… It may not be particularly groundbreaking for a Services company to acclaim their people as their competitive advantage. Perhaps now, however, like many things in corporate life – the idea is easy; effectively executing a strategy that creates a superlative, high-retention culture is a thoughtful, daily process.
We’ve been asked repeatedly to define Acorio’s “special sauce” and share some insights into how we define and implement that best-in-class culture. This article includes just some of the most critical aspects of our top-down management culture, all of which combine to deliver what we believe is a truly different atmosphere to grow our Service Management consulting company.
Acorio’s Emphasis on People Comes from the Top
“You come to realize that everything you put into the company and its success equates to your own success. That you’re no longer the small cog in the giant machine from your “Corporate days”, and instead you’re one of the people helping steer the ship. You might not be holding onto the wheel, but your feedback and opinions reach those who do.” – Damian Broccoli, IT Architect at Acorio, when asked about Acorio’s Start-up Culture
At Acorio, we focus on establishing the right processes for human capital management. We are lucky that our executive team, especially our CEO, Ellen Daley, is enlightened enough to realize the only way to ensure a superior culture is to accord that culture, and our people management processes in general, the priority that we give to managing our financial capital. Investing in keeping our employees happy is a strategic decision that we know makes a direct impact to our bottom line.
Leadership Team Alignment and Measurement Maintains Emphasis
Observing great company cultures (as well as those that were, ahem, less successful), I’ve come to see that the best People Leaders have earned a seat at the leadership table. Once there, they use their seat at the table to influence the development of programs that unleash an organization’s energy.
It’s always surprised me how few companies recognize the importance of the alignment between the executive team and their people leaders. You can’t just pay lip service to culture, you actually have to consistently measure and fund it to make your company culture work.
I’m so privileged to work with a forward-thinking CEO at Acorio, and someone whose style and vision of the organization from a people perspective mirrors my own ideals. In fact, I would argue, it’s our alignment that is partially responsible for creating such a powerful corporate culture.
To determine the effectiveness of your personal investments, you obviously need metrics to assess your programmatic impact. At Acorio, we tend to look at the power of our corporate culture from two points of view: our employees, and the people who interact with them (our customers). For our consistent, comparable culture assessments we field two different surveys:
- ESAT (Employee Satisfaction Score): Sometimes called the net promoter score, ESAT asks of how likely our employees are to recommend Acorio to others in the ServiceNow ecosystem. We field this survey once a year and are very proud that our ESAT sits at 97% as I write this blog.
- CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Score): The Customer Satisfaction Score is one of our most critical metrics in determining the success of our customer engagements. We ask for this direct feedback on how likely it is our customers would recommend us to a colleague after every project. We are very proud to consistently score in the top of the ServiceNow ecosystem quarter after quarter for our CSAT scores. (If you ever attended our leadership meetings weekly, you would know we take this very seriously, and walk through our current scores every week!)
As I mentioned above, great cultures are about execution. Once I have aligned with our CEO, so that we agree on Acorio’s unique style and people vision, my mission is to bottle that essence up and create consumable people offerings to engage and delight our employees.
Driving Acorio’s Performance Culture: Transparency and Autonomy
We are building a performance culture where Acorio employees are clear on what is expected of them in their role for success. To affect that kind of change, we focus on a host of core competencies.
Every employee at Acorio knows this set of traits and behaviors that guide us at work. Managers are continually trained on how to hold themselves and their employees accountable for living up to these ideals.
In addition to employee competencies, leading cultures also focuses on management values. While investment, “getting it,” and time are key priorities our team focuses on to shepherd our culture, we also look to execute management strategies to support and enhance our performance style and vision:
- Transparency. Transparency is a main characteristic of our culture. To us, that means accessibility and honest communication – and lots of it! We purposefully work to ensure employees feel connected to the mission and the goals, and hold monthly All-Hand’s meetings to keep everyone apprised on the current company “going’s-on” so that everyone feels invested in the company’s business goals. This transparent philosophy is infused into every layer of the company. We train and develop the leadership team and all our managers to embrace the concept of human capital first. We emphasize that managers over-communicate, and actively practice closing the loop on conversations, and following through on commitments every single day to build trust. During our onboarding workshops, we ingrain into new Acorians that they should feel comfortable asking anyone anything they need, at any time, to get their job done. And, then, we answer every time they reach out, to guarantee that everyone means it. We’ve developed multiple communication channels to connect, including Slack and Sococo (our virtual online office), all of which are monitored consistently. Finally, we ensure that employees know what is expected of them. We have role-specific competencies so employees are fully aware of everything that’s expected of them. On a quarterly basis, we set goals and assess execution against those goals via a review called APEX, Acorio Professional Excellence eXchange. Everyone has a quarterly APEX, including the leadership team.
- Autonomy. We define employee autonomy as flexibility and a safe place to experiment and push yourself. And, we think this is, perhaps, Acorio’s greatest employee benefit. Our talent doesn’t include babysitters at Acorio. All employees are expected to understand how their work gets done, to act with integrity, and to make decisions in the best interests of the company. We understand that not everyone works the same hours, and that top talent gets their work done without being told when or how. Innovating in your role and pushing yourself to inhabit every corner of your role are encouraged daily. As we say here . . . “Own it”!
The best cultures always come from both the top and the bottom. We are so lucky that our highest office is so passionately committed to the People side of the business. And I have the highly desirable role of making her visions reality. (Without supportive leadership, I’d be stuck, unable to effect meaningful change.)
I’m proud to say that we’ve created many programs and offerings that systematically continue to support transparency, autonomy, and performance, from team “shout outs” and reward systems, to monthly All-Hands calls and an annual all-company Summit.
… Are you interested in working at Acorio? Contact us today to submit a resume or check out our open roles here.