Speedway Motors Customer Day Session: Measuring Culture with BambooHR®


Anna Swayne, Group Product Marketing Manager at BambooHR: Well, welcome, everybody. We’re so excited to be with you today on this very awesome Customer Day. We have learned so much about culture and the value of culture that it has in your organization. We learned from some great speakers on how to build culture in your company, how to use it, how to scale it and adapt to it based on your needs of your company to grow your company in the direction you want to plant those little seeds, let them blossom, and see your culture become what it needs to for your own organization.

And here with us today to learn about how they have done it and adapting, growing and making their culture blossom into what it needs to be to grow their company is Betsy Grindlay. Thank you, Betsy, for being with us today. We’re so excited to have you, and we’re excited to learn more about your company, what you guys have done and dove into, you know, some specific examples. So would you please introduce yourself, kick us off on who you are and what you do at SpeedwayMotors.

Betsy Grindlay, Director of People Operations at Speedway Motors: Yes. Thank you. Hi, guys. Like she said, I am Betsy Grindlay. I am the director of people operations at a company called Speedway Motors right in the middle of the United States, Lincoln, Nebraska. You’ve probably flown over us one hundred times. The company has been in business for nearly 70 years. It’s a family owned business, and it’s been family owned and operated the entire time. We have been a BambooHR customer since October 2018. Before BambooHR (I don’t want to scare any of you.), we were still all paper, so we had no HR system, had no online performance review system, and no online surveys. It was a lot of files and a lot of filing cabinets, but moving over to BambooHR we were able to digitize all of that. And it’s been an incredible change for us.

Anna: That’s so awesome. Did you have any roadblocks rolling out performance management or what were you doing to measure culture before you started at BambooHR?

Betsy: For performance management? We were loosely doing an annual performance review. If the manager had the employee do it, and if the manager gave feedback, and if they turned it into the old HR department, that might have gotten filed into a paper folder. That was how performance management worked about, I’m going to say, annually-ish. But for our culture survey side, we used something, maybe Survey Monkey, maybe some online survey, if it wasn’t a paper survey, and we’d ask people 50 questions, and then no one would look at the responses. That was pre-BambooHR.

As far as roadblocks, I would say the one thing we heard from employees initially when we moved to BambooHR for performance reviews, people kept saying, “We’re going to do this every quarter?” We said, “Yeah, we’re going to do this every quarter.” We got into the BambooHR Koolade hard, so it’s going to sound like I’m regurgitating talking points. But really, it was a choice we made that we wanted to say, OK, we believe that giving feedback to employees consistently matters. Right? And if that’s the truth, then your goal should be to grow from good to great. And that doesn’t happen overnight. Right? And it doesn’t happen with one piece of feedback a year on the piece of paper, but instead it’s consistent regular feedback. So that’s why we moved to quarterly. And as you explain that to managers and to employees who are having to do these more frequently, they get it, too, and then people start to like it. So not a ton of roadblocks initially, just a little bit of like, “Please don’t make me do these more,” which I’m sure some of you have experienced, too.

Anna: Yes, definitely. It’s funny how, you know, there’s this hesitation, and then you explain it and it’s like, “OK, yes, we get it!” So I’m curious, how many review cycles does it take to get everyone rolling in a good cadence and rhythm?

Betsy: Change is hard. That’s kind of what you’re getting to with that, and it probably took three or four assessments to get people really in the groove of replaying. There’s a lot of training up front, right, to say, hey, here’s the resources here. This is why we’re doing this. This is why we think this is important. And then here’s the resources to fill out a good review, kind of a template, because we have a lot of managers that just didn’t understand what they should be saying. Right?

So you would look at the performance assessments as you can do. And it would be like, “Betsy is really good at curling her hair.” And then the next quarter it was like, “Betsy is great at curling her hair.” And you’re like, hey, that’s great. Thank you so much for filling out the form, but actually what we’re saying is, “What was Betsy great at this quarter?” Because looking back at 90 days, it’s really easy to say, “Hey, these were the projects that Betsy, or she went above and beyond unpacking boxes,” or whatever else it is, instead of getting to December and being like, “Did January exist? Because I don’t remember what happened then.” So instead, look at it as quarterly increments and say, “Hey, this is what Betsy really excelled at this quarter, and this is what I think she needs to work on for next quarter.” And so it’s not just always the same review over and over again, which is very easy to do without any guidance.

Anna: And that’s why you guys are here. And that’s your role, right? You get to really guide and direct because it’s not always obvious for managers to be like, “Oh, yeah, this is a great example or this is what I need.” You know, sometimes it’s hard to come out of the day-to-day operational and think about the growth of their employees. So that’s great. I’m glad you guys created a template and reinforced it with great examples. Let’s talk about when Speedway Motors ran their first employee satisfaction or eNPS® survey. Tell us about that process, kind of the steps you took to lead up to that. You know, did you have to, like, prep the managers? Prep the employees? What was kind of your mindset and getting people on board and then running it? And then what did you learn from it?

Betsy: Oh, goodness. OK, so our first eNPS, we ran in March of 2019, and yeah, we sent an email out to all of our department heads saying, “Hey, this is something we’re going to start doing every six months. We want you to be a part of it. We need your help to encourage employees.” And we also did tell employees ahead of time, “Hey, this is something we want to do every six months. We need your feedback.”

And what was really appealing to our management team was that there would be a score, right? They wanted that score as much as the feedback. They wanted something measurable and that’s really provided that. So from the first survey, we were so excited about. BambooHR has said a 10 to 20 is good, and anything above a 30 is great. We were a one. When we ran it again in September, we were in negative one, which is a little startling, but it wasn’t all bad because what came with that score was a massive amount of feedback. So we had said to employees, we really want to know what you think. We’re trying to make it better here. And they believed us, and they shared. And the thing is, if you’re getting that feedback, and you’re listening to it, and you’re making changes, they keep giving you feedback. It’s kind of a double edged sword, but a good one if you’re working in a building culture.

We had one division that houses a lot of our employees and their division score came back at a -72. We’re all friends here, right? I can share that. So go ahead and gasp, and then take a breather. And it wasn’t you, It was me. So it’s OK. You can use us as an example. It’s your management team. We weren’t as bad as that company. But from that we said like, “OK, this area is our area of improvement.” Right? Like, we can figure out what’s going on here. So we started with roundtables. We asked employees and managers separately what’s going on, what can we help with? And there wer a ton of things, and some of it was really easy to tackle. Like my favorite story, we had a guy who was just so disappointed that a light bulb had gone out and it hadn’t been changed. And he just wanted that place to have the light again. And we were like, “Hey, I can change a light bulb!” But he hadn’t felt empowered to tell anyone, and he didn’t think that anyone would listen, and so giving him a place to put that was really meaningful to him. So those were like little things you could fix.

Big things? If you are leading a division and your eNPS is -72, it maybe means that isn’t the right role for you, and so we did make some management changes, which is really hard, but it’s really a great way to be transparent with employees providing feedback about their division and their jobs. And so we learned a lot from that first one and in that second one, and we got a lot of buy-in. I mean, the whole division knew we changed this light bulb, and it was like, “They’re listening to us, what else could they do?” And I was like, “We could change more light bulbs or like bigger things,” but seeing the changes in management mattered. And so, yeah, it was hard, I think, to see those first scores, but really productive to get that feedback.

Anna: I love that you just embraced it. You knew it was going to be this double-edged sword. It kind of sounds like you did a pep talk, and you kind of prepared yourself and management a little bit to be prepared there. There’s going to be some hard things and some maybe easier quick wins, like the light ball. I feel like that’s a great metaphor we should be all using. What are the light bulbs that we need to be changing versus, you know, rewiring or, you know, removing? Was there anything specific that you and management had to do to prepare yourselves for these responses?

Betsy: I think the trick is when you’re doing something unknown, you don’t know how it’s going to go. Right? So according to our BambooHR resources, it was like we’re going to get a 10 to 20. That’s a good score. We’re a good company. So, like, we’d really prepared that that’s about where we are going to be, and we’re going to see things that maybe they don’t want to see. And as the scores come in, because that is the other helpful part, you can watch it as it’s happening. You’re seeing them come in and you’re like, “We’re not going to hit 20. We may not even hit 10.” So, like, you can prepare management a little bit better. So, it’s not that they don’t like you or they don’t like the business, but they’re having a problem with something in the business. And when you can show examples of hey, this leader is the problem, or hey this light bulb is a problem, then it takes the personal feelings out of it because they get on board and say, “We can fix the light bulb.” Like you can fix light bulb! But then you look at the manager and you’re like, that’s a lot harder fix, we’ll work. We’ll work to that.

But like every little win you can get, every little thing like that that you can show management, “Hey, we see this, and we can make a change here.” They get more and more excited about the journey and where we are now. But I think as you see it, and see the improvements that happen in the score, and in the comments, and kind of the tone change, it gets really addicting. Right? So you want to change every light bulb, because you want to make a difference to these employees and make their experience better. And that’s honestly what building the culture is about. Right? Like you want them to have a good experience at your company and you can change that. And the management team can feel that, too, just from those changes you’re making. And so, I think that’s really how the light bulbs happen. Right? Like you, you see one thing change and it gets people excited. And so you want more. It’s a little addictive, really.

Anna: So, yes. Let’s talk a little bit more about your journey. So I’d love to know what your score is today. It’s been a couple of years now.

Betsy: Yes. So our last survey we just ran in March of this year. And hold on to your seats, guys. We’ve got a company score of thirty two. It was exciting!

Anna: That’s so great! Congrats!

Betsy: Thank you. That was a ten point jump, so we were just honestly thrilled. This is how you know we’re all kind of nerds. People ops and HR were jumping up to celebrate. And anyway, very exciting stuff. It’s a pandemic. You’ve got to celebrate the victories.

So the kind of bigger things we tackled along the way, we were getting a lot of feedback about communication. And so we have started a company update. It’s better than a newsletter. I don’t know why other than newsletters just sound old, but we do a company update, and it’s a message from our executive team about what’s happening in the company for the month. And then every quarter, each department has an opportunity to share what they’re doing in their department. And so now, all of a sudden you can know what’s happening across the company. That is a little bit of work to facilitate making it happen. But it’s all based on work already happening. You just start communicating it to more people, and people are just loving that, which is awesome.

We also created a Culture Committee which feels a little eye-rolly, but stay with me here. We added someone from each department of the company or each division of the company so that more of our blue collar jobs had as much feedback as the white collar jobs, did on things like events and what they wanted for Christmas gifts. That I mean, silly stuff, but it was things that they got to provide feedback on, and then they also got to connect with other people in the business and hear what was going on and bring it back to their department, which was really great.

One of the things we heard this quarter was people are really excited about high deductible savings plans, and we did have one. So this year, we’re doing a benefits audit to see if we need to maybe consider adding one of those and follow up surveys about that. But I think the thing in general about our journey is that every time we run in eNPS, we look at the comments, and we say, “Hey, here are the two or three things company-wide we want to tackle because of what the comments were.” After this one in March, we’re going to be looking at our benefits plans, and we’re going to be looking at updating some equipment because equipment needs change in 2020 for our company, like many years, I’m sure. And so we are needing to kind of reevaluate the equipment.

And so every six months you’re looking at what are two things I can tackle to make it better, and you let the employees know that, and then you give them an update, the next company update of what you’re doing and you get to include that information. And so that’s been really helpful. We also have business partners and people ops. So people that work directly with each division to go through the feedback with those managers, and they say, “Hey, here’s all of your comments, here’s your score. Let’s talk about what we want your action plan to be.” And so then we report both on company goals and department action plans to the executive team. And again, those are the little things that they get excited about because now they know how changes are being made. Employees are more excited to be here, and like getting to tell them we were a 32? It was like, I’d like my raise. No, I’m kidding. But like it was like you look at the things we’ve done together, and we could really celebrate it. And I think that was a pretty special moment. So March was a good time for us.

Anna: Wow, congratulations! That is awesome, and like you said, it’s the little things. So that’s interesting because, you know, eNPS you’re looking at it from this company view. I’m curious, how do you take eNPS and wrap it into performance? Because now we’re getting to the individual. The two are very connected as far as we’re looking at culture. I’m curious on how you at Speedway Motors look at both of the results or use both of those experiences to help grow your company culture.

Betsy: Yep, so we think it’s a pretty natural combination, right? Because in the employee assessments, you’re finding out are your employees engaged? Right? And do they like their job? And you find out from their managers, do you think these employees or are they good at their job? So you have that side of it, plus then from eNPS, you’re hearing, “Would you recommend working here to a friend?” And so when you’re looking at both of them, you can say, I’ll use my own department people operation, “OK, so you’ve got 10 people here, and in their own reports, when you map them out on a beautiful graph that you have access to in reporting gosh, they’re pretty engaged. OK, that’s great. And they recommend working here to a friend. Great.” Like you can see, they’re kind of in what you’re doing. They’re feeling your vibe. That’s awesome. But, I have worked in marketing in the past, so I’ll pick on them. “But your marketing team, if you’re looking at their kind of matrix, they’re just not as engaged, and they’re not really recommending you to a friend. So we really need to look at that department and think about, OK, what’s happening here? Are they not feeling connected to the business or are they not feeling connected to the managers?” And being able to drill down into the comments and eNPS really helps with that. Right? Because it’s people telling you exactly what they think, and maybe there’s a person on the team that’s a problem. Maybe none of them have had a computer for the last year, and they’re tired of typing on their phone. You know, whatever it is, you can find their examples, and then start working through that with the department.

Anna: This is awesome. I love what you’re saying about employee satisfaction and performance management, how the two work together. Let’s talk a little bit about performance management and just how you’ve rolled it out onto your own company. What do you like about it? And any challenges you had in employees engaging with it or managers and any tips or tricks there? And what kind of things have you learned from performance management?

Betsy: Sure. So I think one of the greatest things of moving to a digital system is that you send the reminder for me. So it’s nice that it’s like, “hHey, your assessments are about to open. Hey, they’re going to open. Please, please warn your department leaders now. OK, thank you.” And then they just open, and you tell everyone, and that is first of all, thank you for that, that is just very helpful. But second of all, it’s very easy then to see participation as it’s happening.

So I’m going to guess in our old system, and this is a guess because it’s on paper, and I’m not going to audit five hundred employee records, I’m going to guess it’s like a 40 or 50 percent response rate. Because, again, if the manager, and if the employee, and then if they submitted it, and then if it went in the folder. But this way, you are watching the bar actively fill out of how many employees and how many managers have participated. And so as Bambooing HR is sending reminder emails, we are also able to send a really great reminder email that says, “Hey, Betsy, you have six employees that have filled out their own performance assessments, and you have not filled them out. So you have three days. Let’s do that, shall we?” And that makes me laugh every time, because as it turns out, we’re a bunch of procrastinators in this world, I think. And so, like the last three days is always a sprint or you’re like, “Hey, but seriously, you could do it today instead of at midnight on the last day. You want to try that or no? All right. See you at midnight.” So inevitably, like the last week, we’re at like 80 percent full, and then by the time it closes, it’s like 97 percent like, OK, we’ve got to get there. But I really do like that feature.

I think as far as how employees and managers feel about it now, I think that employees are liking the frequency. I mean, again, I talked about how at the beginning it was a little hard to get into the kind of quarterly concept, but now it’s just part of what we do. For new employees, it’s just what we’ve always done, and that’s awesome. But for our employees that have now done this for two and a half years, you just know it’s going to happen every quarter. And you’ve gotten a lot better at knowing, like we have some people that keep notes. So some managers will have a note and they’ll say, “OK, let’s see this. I got to remember to talk about it, etc., etc.,” or for my own self assessment, I’ll do that too. Or you look back at the calendar, you know, like I did do that 90 days ago. Like, that was awesome. And so people have just gotten a lot better at kind of tracking what they do, which is great, and feeling like you’re making progress, which is great. Right? Because you can see every quarter a change of what you’ve done and what you’ve worked on. You can celebrate projects closing and new projects starting in kind of a new way that’s all documented. And so we’re really grateful for that. I think it’s I think it’s been really great for the company. And while sure some managers are filling it out on midnight the day it’s due, they still like it, and they may grumble a little bit about it, but they’re glad for it, it’s also helpful.

I mean, this is a less fun topic for culture, but it’s also helpful for just general documentation. Right. So if you do have an employee that has a hard time or isn’t catching on to something, the frequency of being able to say like, “Hey, yeah, I talked to them 90 days ago, it was a problem. I talked to them today, it’s still a problem, and they didn’t improve.” Then you can be talking to your manager like, “Hey, you’ve got this great documentation. Do you need to make a change?” So that’s like the less sexy side of it, but it is still really applicable and really helpful for managers. And that’s why it ends up being something they really like. Right, because for their good employees makes them feel good for their top employees, it gives them an option. And so we’ve just been finding it really wonderful, really helpful.

Anna: So awesome. And you’re right, and as a manager who has employees, it’s hard. It’s hard. And there is a little bit of a grumble because you’re like, “I have to do one more thing,” but it’s so worth it. It’s so rare that I can relate to that.

And one other thing, I don’t know if you feel this way, but something that I recently benefited from was when I had an internal transfer to my team, I was able to see some information about them just to kind of help me understand where they’re coming from and maybe some past reviews and just how they have felt in the past. And that was nicer for me as a manager coming into the scenario situation and being like, “Oh, wow, OK, this is really helpful for me to be a better manager for you in this way,” because I could see their past review.

Betsy: Exactly. It’s so helpful for either management changes or employee transfers to be able to say, “Hey, I can see what they’ve done for the last year and generally how they’re doing, or what goals they used to have, or how their expectations were set,” does make for a much smoother transition with employees.

Anna: I’m curious kind of to wrap all this up, I’m curious about, and we talked about leadership previously with employee satisfaction, was it similar with performance management? Was it kind of the same reaction? How did they like to see the data, and how did you share that data. Just to kind of close us out. And then any other recommendations you have for anybody who hasn’t started doing this or has and maybe have hit some stumbling blocks? Because we know change management is hard, like you said, what would be your recommendation or tips or encouragement for those who are watching that may need it?

Betsy: Sure. So I think for management looking at performance, they are a little less engaged in that than they are on eNPS because the eNPS has a score, and it tells you how you’re doing, and they can see that improvement. So they love that. They love the graph. I mean, they drink the BambooHR Kool-Aid. It’s awesome for us.

For performance management, they can see which of their managers are engaging, which one’s aren’t, who’s doing that review well, and so they do look at that, but they get a little less into it just because there’s not like a fancy graph, except for the engagement graph. And they love to say like, “Hey, if we’ve got employees in this bottom quadrant, we really need to think about coaching them up.” Yeah, they do. They sure do. So that’s kind of what performance management looks like with our exec team.

I would say, if this is a change you’re thinking about, if you’re a little nervous, recommendations I have for you, go ahead and call me, I’ll send you a bottle of wine and a pep talk. You can do it. I know you can. I do think we are a pretty decent case study on how you can really use it to improve your organization. And I think that’s a great note for people. It’s really awesome if you’re already a company that’s touting how great your culture is and how fun you are. Right? But it’s much harder when you come into it as a company that’s like, culture? And you don’t really know where to start, this is a great tool to just kind of ease you in, and it gives you all the reporting you need and then all the emails you need, and it comes with all the tablets you need. So they’re a really easy way to kind of just softly walk in. And then I think the other thing to remember is just take it in little chunks, right? So you cannot make 100 percent of your employees happy ever, but you especially can’t do it on the first day or the second. And so just knowing that you’re going to make little improvements over time really helps. And having a partner in crime in your organization to talk it through with and bounce ideas off is really helpful. I hope you have a team, if you don’t, even if you just have somebody that is a peer just to think, “Should we approach it this way? Should we do this another way?” There’s great resources at BambooHR that could help you. And I’m always a phone call, or an email, or teams, or a Tweet, or an Instagram post away.

Anna: Wow, Betsy! This has been so fantastic to talk to you, learn about your personal experience, how your company has change, and what they’ve learned. We really appreciate how open you’ve been and how transparent. I know that sometimes it’s hard to talk about, you know, what you learned and where you are today and your future growth. So thank you so much. We really appreciate it.

Betsy: Yeah, it’s really wonderful to join you. I think, again, this is something anyone can do, and and just my note to you guys is thank you for providing the tools that make it so possible to do it, because it does start. It’s a little nerve wracking when you start, but it gets better, and it’s really, really fun to see the change.

Anna: Awesome. It’s so good to hear, because we are in the business of helping people and organizations change for the better. So seeing you grow and have success, it makes our jobs feel like they’re all worth it. So thank you so much.

Betsy: Thank you. Have a great day!

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