Accelerating Microsoft’s cultural transformation with Kathleen Hogan

Accelerating Microsoft’s cultural transformation with Kathleen Hogan


Culture is obviously
a hot topic today, and I think Microsoft has
gone at a fair amount of attention around
cultural transformation. With all of the workplace and workforce changes
that you’re seeing, why is culture so important?>>We believe culture is
absolutely important to engage employees and to attract and retain
exceptional talent. In fact, we say sometimes
culture is the new currency, and we’re super
focused on having a unique learning
culture here at Microsoft but also having
that in service to a mission, where people have
that deep sense of purpose. And so we believe
if you can have this amazing culture and service to a mission that people
really care about, and they find deep meaning in, that can be really powerful in terms of employee engagement. And our strategy continues to evolve. We know that’s
going to change. Technology is moving so fast, but that culture
and that mission, we really hope are long-lasting.>>So you and Satya worked with the leadership team
to define our culture, and that was a pretty
intentional process. You took your time. Can you tell us a little bit
more about that?>>Yeah. It took
a good nine months. So, I’ll try to distill that in 9 seconds or maybe
a little more. But when I came into
role, Satya said, “The number one thing is for you to help me with this really evolving our culture.” So even then, he knew
that that was going to be a real world-class problem that we really
wanted to focus on. And so we went offsite
with his directs, where we really talked
about the culture that we wanted to have. We took our 180 leaders,
executives offsite. We broke into 17 teams. The team leaders became
the culture cabinet. We were engaging
with researchers and experts from
around the world. We met with Dr.
Dweck from Stanford, who wrote the book “Mindset.” We met with Dr. Gervais, mindfulness coach
with the Seahawks. Jeff Raikes, who is the CEO
at Gates Foundation, but also prior to that was
an executive at Microsoft. And so we were tapping
into a lot of experts. And then we were really
tapping into our employees and really doing roundtables and focus groups to understand, what was the aspire to culture
that they wanted to have? What did they want to retain that was unique
about our culture, but what did they
think we would need to evolve to be successful
going forward? And so we looked at it
from many different angles. We did focus groups
with men and women, sales and engineering, US, non-US, millennials,
non-millennials. Really looking at it from
many different dimensions but ultimately decided to ground our culture in this concept of a growth mindset and really focused on being
more customer-obsessed, more diverse and
inclusive and then really operating as
one Microsoft and all of that in service to
making a difference using technology
to empower people.>>Right.>>That’s a long process.>>Yes, I can imagine. So you knew you had to engage a large number
of employees, 110,000, around these ideas, the growth mindset and so on. How did you do that? How did you go about that?>>Well, as you said,
with 110,000 employees, 16,000 managers, 190 countries, there is no silver bullet. So we did many things. One of the things we
tried to do is think about big intentional changes
we could make that would grab people’s attention that
we really were changing. Things like changing
the performance review system, changing our company meeting
where we would have a four-hour meeting,
talking at employees, change that to
a one-week hackathon, where we really engage
diverse teams from around the world to
really show that we were focused on listening and being learn-it-alls
and not know-it-alls. So big symbolic changes, but then also we tried
to do small changes. We rolled out
10 inclusive behaviors and asked people to pick
one in your team and discuss it whether it be not interrupting people or making sure all voices are heard before the meeting is adjourned. So we focused on that and then certainly communications
was absolutely critical. This constant and
consistent communication at all levels for people
to really understand, first, what the culture
we aspire to have, but then also how to
embody that culture.>>Right. So if I could
interrupt you for a moment since throughout
this cultural transformation, we’ve learned a lot obviously. And you just mentioned
10 things we learned. I think you published
the piece on LinkedIn called the “10 Things We’ve
Learned About Culture”. Could we maybe focus specifically
on one of those which was how technology has helped you roll out some
of this culture change?>>Yeah, absolutely.
And, in fact, how we lead is
one of things I’ve learned is about one
in three companies that try to change their culture
are actually successful. So, I humbly say what
we’ve learned so far, but we’re definitely
not declaring victory. But we’ve learned 10 things, and one thing that
I added to the list, which you’ve mentioned,
is technology. When I started to meet with customers from around the world, I realized that technology
and how it accelerated our change here at Microsoft was something I
took for granted. But it was something that really was unique that
I needed to call out. We were using technology
to keep score, using Power BI and dashboards. That was really powerful. We were using big data
and AI to really reason over employee data,
to gain insights, to debunk some myths
that people had or held onto to help propel
the culture forward. Probably, most importantly
was really using our technology for teaming and collaboration and bringing those agile and diverse teams
from around the world together and then also to really engage in
employees at scale. Really using technology to
have that two-way dialogue at scale with 110,000
people and 190 countries. That’s been really, I think, critical to our success.>>Yes. I can imagine that wasn’t
easy across that breadth. And even if you have
very consistent communications, how do you create that dialogue
that you mentioned, that two-way dialogue as opposed to just
communicating out?>>Well, and you’re right,
sometimes we communicate out. We’ve used sway and technology like that
to communicate to managers and employees in real depth behind
the growth mindset. But then we’ve used
things like Yammer to really connect at scale and have that two-way dialogue. I think one of
the most impactful ways we’ve done that is with our monthly Q&A that Satya and his leadership team have
with the entire company. And so leading up to
that Q&A, we are on Yammer. We’re getting themes and questions and seeing
what’s on people’s mind. We use that to address those topics in
the actual Q&A with Satya. During the Q&A, people can ask questions either in person, but also we take questions
from Yammer and online. And then the dialogue
continues after the Q&A. In fact, after the Q&A, we can assess sentiment, what resonated, what didn’t and then that feeds back
into the next Q&A. And so, I think it’s been
really powerful for us to have that two-way dialogue
and for people to really hear from Satya
and the leadership team in a consistent way in a way where they feel like they’re
really part of that dialogue.>>That’s something I have
noticed as an employee. And it’s not just the
town halls, the Q&A, but it’s also this in-between, and that’s where it continues.>>Absolutely.>>Can you tell us
a little bit more since we’re here today to learn about some of
those technologies? Can you tell us a little bit
more about how that works?>>In fact, I’d
rather just show you. And so I’ve invited Naomi
who’s been absolutely essential to helping
a lot of our teams take advantage of
this technology, including our CEO.
So welcome, Naomi.>>Fantastic.>>Thank you so much, Kathleen. It’s a real privilege
to be able to share a little bit about what
we’re doing at Microsoft. So, I have a great environment
to share with you. It’s really representative of the work that we’ve been doing, both as Kathleen described from a CEO connection perspective, but also how we’re
really looking at this model for
leaders altogether. So if we go here,
we can actually see that we have
a CEO Connection group. You can see that it’s
an engaging and vibrant group. We’ve got lots of questions, we’ve got answers,
we’ve got photographs. People actually sharing
all kinds of content. And it’s really helpful
to understand really what’s top of mind
for the organization. It’s a great way to get that engagement and to help sustain that engagement in between all of those different events
that we’re doing. You can also see that we give some guidance to you when you
first come into the group. We actually want
to be able to share with you how easy it is to actually ask a question of
our senior leadership team. And this kind of
transparency is really helpful to help guide
you into this process. As you click through
here, you’ll see also that we have
scheduled broadcast, and these are kind of those
moments of high engagement. It’s really where we
want to concentrate the effort and the energy
inside of organization, but we want to make sure it’s
real and understand, again, what are issues for
our company and really bring those as part of that
movement of high engagement. I click through
onto this broadcast. You’ll see that we’ve put
together a teaser video, and it’s really helpful to
be able to understand just to get that engagement
and understand the themes and top of mind, in this case, Satya
would be sharing. I can see this video is
powered by Microsoft Stream. And as I click through in here, we’re also being
very conscientious, of course, to make sure
that the content that we’re sharing is inclusive and
accessible to everyone. So when I click through,
I can actually get the closed captions switched
on and off automatically. And that transcription
capability that we have is built into
what we’re doing. So I can actually
do a search right inside of this video
even right now. So I’m going to
search for the word “challenge,” in this case. And if I wanted to
see the top of mind, we can actually go right
to that part of the video. It’s just a really
great way to be able to queue and understand
what kinds of things we’ve shared in the past
and then be able to use that as a reference point
for things in the future. So part of my
upcoming broadcast, I can actually see
a little bit more about what’s going on
inside of the group. I can see that there
are questions that are already being asked
as part of this event. And so I can easily
use those as kind of input going forward
into our next broadcast. What we know at
Microsoft it’s not just about the conversations. Conversations are
essential for modeling that two-way communication
that Kathleen talked about, but really understand
that there’s more to that inside of
your organization too. One of the things that
we like to do here is to have a CEO connection site. And that really
helps us inside of understanding
the other information that we want to share out. There’s a few things that
are available to us here. It’s kind of
a rich place to be able to experience articles, news, being able to share obviously
the conversations that we have as part of our CEO
connection and community as well. And I can share the latest, as well as blogs, and even understand where
we can do polling. So being able to outreach again in lots of
different ways to our employees and be able to use that as a great
source of content, as well as that connection
that we feel. You can also check
out the latest in the documents and policies. Maybe there’s follow-up from those last moments in
those broadcast and be able to share that broadly and have one place for people
to find everything. It’s important as we look
through at this conversations here that we understand
a little bit about the impact. So over in my CEO
Connections group, I can actually check out
one of the group insights. And so you’ll see as I
scroll through the page here, I can actually check out that how many people
have actually been reading the conversations and interacting on
the conversations. And that’s powerful data as
an internal communicator. I can also check
out understanding the group insights that are available as part of this too. So for example, I can see
that over the last few months, we’ve had some really
great engagement, and it’s really about
understanding and sustaining that engagement
as part of what we’re doing. With the integrated capabilities
of Microsoft 365, we’re connecting Satya and the organization with
sustained engagement, as well as those moments
of high engagement and driving open communications
at a global scale.>>Thanks, Naomi. So, Kathleen, it
really has shifted this idea of leadership
communication from simple linear broadcast to a much more
interactive dialogue.>>Yes. I know. It’s been
phenomenally successful. I mean, certainly
the data shows that in terms of the number of
people who are engaged in this connection
in the beginning and how many people dial in or watch now, it’s been phenomenal. But I think even
more importantly, if you go around the world and you go to Poland or
you go to Singapore, people come up to me and say, “I feel like I know Satya even though I’ve never met him.” And I feel connected to the
strategy and what’s happening perhaps at headquarters even though I’ve never
been to Redmond. And so I think it creates
this two-way dialogue but a very inclusive sense where
people really feel involved. And it’s not just for the CEO and using it
at the company level. I think all of
our teams use this. I use it to connect with the HR professionals
from around the world. I do my own all hands. I get into Yammer afterwards. We dedicate two hours where we commit to being real-time
having that dialogue. And I learn as much
from that as hopefully the HR folks on the Yammer gained from it as well because it really is
that two-way dialogue.>>Fantastic. Kathleen, thank you so much for sharing
your story with us.>>Great to be here
today. Thank you.

Author: Kennedi Daugherty

3 thoughts on “Accelerating Microsoft’s cultural transformation with Kathleen Hogan

  1. Diversity has nothing to do with success, talent and intelligence does. These are self-hating virtue-signaling white people whose own culture is going extinct because of forced multiculturalism in all arenas of the west. Why are western countries the only ones employing multiculturalism? What about Japan, China, SE Asia, Africa, Russia, India? It's OK to be white and proud of our culture. Stop being racist, Microsoft.

  2. Microsoft is the worst place to work. Stack ranking exist in a hidden way. Toxic and backstabbing work environment. HR covers up all workplace harassment. Super political and unfriendly to young. Extremely underpaid and has nothing to compete with Google, Facebook, etc. Microsoft has lost its momentum since Steve took over and Satya is only finishing up the job. Top word in employee channel: UNDERPAID and VOTE WITH FEET

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