HR Technology Q & A with L. David Kingsley of Salesforce

A talent management and organizational effectiveness executive with experience leading global teams to deliver measurable outcomes against core business objectives in high growth industries and markets, David currently serves as Salesforce’s Senior Vice President of Employee Success Strategy and Operations. Comprising a team of 95 professionals in 12 offices across AMER, EMEA, APAC, and Japan in the disciplines of HR Strategy, Analytics, Program Management, Shared Services, Compliance, Technology and Employee Relations, the team serves the 27,000 employees of Salesforce across 26 countries. With a B.A. in International Relations from Catholic University and an M.A. in Organizational Science from George Washington University, David and his family relocated to San Francisco from Washington, D.C., where he joined Salesforce after leadership roles in management consulting with Accenture and Booz Allen.

 

The word “Ohana” represents the idea that a family unit is bound together and that its members are responsible for one another to collaborate, take care of each other, and have fun — and it’s the foundation of Salesforce’s culture. What advice can you share with employers who are looking to build a better workplace culture and how can HR technology can help with that goal?

Ohana is synonymous with our culture and is at the center of everything we do at Salesforce. Our leaders champion it, our managers are measured on how well they drive it, and our employees understand and embrace their role in protecting it. Companies need to be as intentional about culture as they are about the products they build and services they offer. By making culture the core of a company’s DNA, businesses are committing to having their values be part of everything they do.

Technology can help scale culture throughout a company. Today’s workforce expects the same customer-focused experience they receive in their personal lives in their professional lives— meaning companies must learn new techniques and adopt technology to help bridge this disconnect. By learning what the employee experience looks like in the digital era, companies can transform their culture to embrace technology and provide employees with an experience that reflects the technology they use in their personal lives.

MK. Employee engagement can be a difficult feat when you have 27,000 employees spread across 26 countries. What is one way that Salesforce is using technology to engage a global and diverse workforce?

LDK: Our Ohana roots run deep – when our founders started Salesforce, they set out to create an innovative company with a disruptive business model and new type of corporate culture, one that was focused on having a positive impact on the communities where employees live and work. As we have grown, we’ve stayed focused on that goal, helping ensure all employees — whether they were hired 10 years ago or yesterday — have a clear understanding of what we stand for and feel empowered, engaged and compelled to live our values.

One specific technology we use to engage what are now 27,000 employees around the world is our Salesforce Community Cloud product, which we call Chatter internally. A few examples of Chatter pages that help us keep connected:

  • Company-wide groups like “Manager Success” that give leaders the opportunity to collaborate and support each other,
  • Geographically-specific groups like the one for our London office that let employees located in a specific city, country or region stay connected, and
  • Interest-based groups like “Snack It Right” where employees can support each other in healthy eating habits and lifestyle choices in support of our core value of Wellbeing.

MK: HR technology is now used to build better teams and foster stronger relationships among key stakeholders. How are you using technology to build stronger, more productive teams at Salesforce?

LDK: Over the past 18 years, we have been able to scale our culture as we’ve grown to 27,000 employees through trust and transparency. We believe that building trust among teams translates into stronger, more productive relationships for all of our Ohana, and we do this by encouraging transparency among all of our employees, from executives to entry-level employees.

In February 2017, we took the bold move (based upon employee feedback) to do away with the old annual performance review process. In its place, we launched the internal Salesforce Feedback App. Built on the Salesforce Platform, the feedback app has helped revolutionize our approach to how we help each other grow and develop as professionals and colleagues. The feedback app enables all employees to give and receive honest, helpful, continuous feedback from the people we work with across the company – our peers, direct reports and managers – in real time, on desktop of mobile. It is a catalyst for regular conversations that ensures people feel recognized for their accomplishments and get guidance to continuously improve their performance.

MK: New HR technologies are being developed to improve the employee experience. How are you using technology at Salesforce to improve the employee experience?

LDK: Our people are our biggest asset. Our employees around the world build innovative products and deliver amazing experiences to our customers. This is one of the many reasons why we invest in creating an employee experience that helps attract, develop and retain top talent. And our employees tell us in engagement surveys and employee referrals that they’re enjoying their experience here. In fact, more than half of the people we hire each year come to us through an employee referral!

We’ve found that part of creating a robust employee experience is using technology to make all employees feel empowered to speak up, and most importantly, feel heard. That’s why we share the full results of our bi-annual employee survey in the Salesforce Einstein Analytics, allowing any employee to view the results across the company. This lets our people know that their voice matters in how leaders made decisions about how Salesforce grows and develops.

Another area of technology we’ve used to improve the employee experience is Salesforce Marketing Cloud Journeys. Because we want our employees to get the same amazing customer experience that our customers have, Marketing Cloud enables us to engage with employees as soon as they accept an offer with Salesforce, all the way through their 90-day mark with the company. The outreach and communications in the Journey give the newest members of our Ohana tips and insights into how to feel like a local at Salesforce, where to look for critical information and how to get connected to their colleagues and peers around the organization and around the world.

MK: There’s been an explosion in real-time and pulse feedback technology for performance and engagement. Why are these systems becoming a critical substructure for businesses in terms of talent management and retention?

LDK: Tools such as feedback apps and company-wide forums help companies personalize employee experiences by collecting real-time feedback and individualizing career paths, providing them with a clear vision of their path to success. By implementing technology like the feedback app I talked about earlier, companies like ours now have more data to help drive employee engagement, and in turn make better investments in talent management and employee retention.

MK: Technology is enabling HR to look at how their strategy affects organizational performance, in addition to HR-specific problems. To what extent are today’s HR professionals able to step outside the box that has traditionally defined their role?

LDK: As HR teams continue to experiment with technology, there are more opportunities for them to get creative with how to use these tools to better support their organization’s goals. For example, we use Salesforce analytics to showcase data in different ways and help us identify new patterns that we may not have noticed in previous reporting methods. By incorporating such technology into their day-to-day, HR practitioners can have a data-driven perspective to supplement their traditional approach. CEOs and Boards of Directors today realize that organizational culture and employee engagement are at the heart of corporate success and are more willing than ever to make investments in areas of their companies that ultimately drive more engaged employees, which in turns means more satisfied customers and stakeholders!

L. David Kinglsley will speak at the 2017 HR Technology Conference at the following sessions: