171: Unlocking Employee Optimism
In 2017, Jeff Perkins was champing at the bit to get started as CMO of ParkMobile, a parking assistance app based out of Atlanta. He saw the 7.5 million users, the hundreds of thousands of new users each month, and the awesome product driving everything. However, when he got going, he began to notice his enthusiasm wasn’t exactly the norm. Jeff joined the team following some significant board changes, executive changes, and turnover. As a result, the company moral was experiencing a sort of slump, despite the app’s early success, and the leadership decided to step up.
Jeff was quick to spot that this relative malaise could be remedied with a clearer articulation of the company’s vision in a clear set of core values. Following that, an emphasis on employee engagement would help that mission—and a new positive spirit—spread through the company. Listen in to this episode to hear more about how ParkMobile built a thriving culture around core values and an engaged internal team, and how that culture has helped the company grow to 17.5 million users.
When you first arrived, why did you opt to focus on internal efforts?
When I joined the company over 2 years ago, it had been through a lot. We had some significant board changes, executive changes, a lot of turnover. And you could feel within the employees and the culture that there had been some whiplash going on. People just didn’t know where the company was going. They were felt like they were just grinding every day to do a really good job, but there wasn’t the overall hope that you want to have at an organization. There wasn’t an excitement. When I looked at the business before joining the company, I said, “Wow, this is this is a really exciting company. They’re in these huge cities where they have tens of thousands of people using the app every day to park. They acquire hundreds of thousands of customers on a on a monthly basis. People really like the app.” ParkMobile actually had about a 4.9/5 score with hundreds of thousands of reviews in the app store. There was a lot of great stuff going on. But when you walked the halls, you wouldn’t feel that, and you kind of felt like everyone was waiting for the next shoe to drop. We had to change that mindset.
What core values to you establish, and how were they received?
One of my first moves as CMO, was to lead an offsite executive workshop. After 1 day, we left with rough values that we refined pretty quickly into 6 core values for our company. They are: Have a healthy obsession with customer experience, act with integrity, sweat the small stuff, play well with others, rise and fall together, and support our people and community. Six fairly simple, easy to understand core values. Now, we do everything through the lens of those core values. If someone is not sweating the small stuff in this company, maybe they shouldn’t be in this company when we’re hiring. I have to tell you, and I wish there was a quantitative way to really assess this, but once we had the core values in place, they made a huge difference on the organization. We put the core values on the walls. Our CEO enforces the core values constantly. People have them memorized, and you can really feel the positive impact throughout the organization.