Connect with Wayne McCulloch: https://www.linkedin.com/in/waynemcculloch/
Learn more about WalkMe at https://www.walkme.com/
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All leaders have to place bets, especially those new to an organization.
In order to ensure the future success of his organization, Wayne made his first major bet on his people leaders. He put every single people leader in his organization into the B2B Leaders Academy.
You'll hear directly from Wayne on why this was the most important investment to make in his first few months with WalkMe.
Wayne McCulloch is the first Chief Customer Officer at WalkMe, a publicly-traded company maximizing and accelerating the impact of your digital transformation strategy by driving user adoption of your digital assets.
What was going on inside of WalkMe that they had identified the need for a CCO?
Before Wayne left Google, he gave three months notice because he was trying to be respectful to his team. He believed that people don't remember how you arrived but they always remember how you leave. That's why it's really important to think about how you leave.
In that three-month period, Wayne used the time to do research on WalkMe's customer base. He wanted to answer the question of why some customers were leaving the platform while others were having tremendous success.
If one company can have an amazing outcome and one company doesn't with the same product, it's usually the experience.
Wayne discovered that groups like professional services, support, customer success, training, marketing, sales who are all touching the customer, were not united under a common platform, framework, customer journey, or comp plan.
Wayne figured that the experiences from these groups who are implementing, supporting, advising, guiding and educating customers, are what enable success and outcomes to happen. It's not the product itself.
WalkMe is growing really fast and is continuing to accelerate that growth. They have a lot of customers coming in and what happens is they get gaps in their customer journey and they get inconsistent experiences where some customers are not having the same experience that others are.
WalkMe wants every customer to have the same successful experience and they needed a Chief Customer Officer to make that happen.
How did Wayne show up on day 1 already positioned to make a big impact?
When Wayne gave his three months notice to Google, it gave him a really unique opportunity to explore what it was like to interact with the WalkMe brand. He pretended to be a prospect. He tried to find out how he's going to be nurtured and how he's going to be spoken to by the company.
A Chief Customer Officer's job is to take it from the sales team when it's a new logo and then make it successful but actually, the relationship starts when the prospect first interacts with the brand. Wayne needed to know what experience the customer has had before they get to his organization because that might change the way he behaves with that customer.
Wayne was also able to emulate being a customer. He did all the things a customer would, to try to get a feel for the experience. He also hired a company called Thirdside to go interview everyone that had left in the last 12 months and they were able to identify eight common experiences that all the churned customers went through, and he called it a Churn Journey Map.
When Wayne joined WalkMe three months later, he had a great idea of what the sales experience was like and he knew what it was like to be a customer. This resulted in a thousand different ideas where they can make improvements.
Wayne was armed with all this knowledge when he arrived on day 1 but he didn't know what to do with it yet because the next thing he's asked to do was create his 30-60-90-day plan.
The first thing he did was pull in teams from customer success, professional services, and support. He discovered that these teams have all been in different organizations led by different leaders, had different metrics, and have optimized for their silo. He knew early on that bringing these teams together would be critically important.
Coming on board and experiencing what it's like to come into something new is very different than if you had come in and someone had just left. In Wayne's case, it was a little difficult because it wasn't all together and there were lots of different versions of the same data and all the problems you get with silo doors. He didn't know exactly what to do with it and it took him some time but that was okay with Wayne.
Wayne advises that if it takes 60 days to do the first part, take 60 days. Don't rush it and don't just waste time. Take the appropriate amount of time to understand what's happening before you move on to the next phase.
Wayne went deep to understand what was going on at WalkMe by having 155 one-on-one meetings with people across the organization.
The next step was to hear the people in the company explain their version of what the churn journey was. So Wayne asked people with very open-ended questions and he discovered that everyone identified the Churn Journey Map, but they identified one sliver of their part of the journey. The team was able to articulate the problem. The team actually knows what's wrong, and they actually have an idea of how to fix it.
One of the big learning parts of his first five months at the company was after those initial conversations with everyone in the organization, he figured out that they already had the answers.
In one of his presentations, he was just giving the feedback, not saying anything nor committing to anything. He was very transparent and one of the things he said was "I don't know the answer but the good news is you all know the answer. You told me the answer. I've collected all the answers, so it's not me, it's you".
So they set out on a five-week program with 31 work groups and 177 people globally to work on the strategy to fix the problem. They did it without even having a single meeting and Wayne got so much amazing information from those work groups that he was able to build the whole 2022 plan based on what they learned during this process. When he presented the plan back to the people, they immediately recognized each piece and said "Oh, that was my idea. I worked on that." That's what Wayne wanted to happen.
These people knew what Wayne brought was not an answer to the problems. The team knows the answers but they couldn't affect the change until now. Wayne's job was to remove the obstacles in the way of these people solving the problems.
This was a big learning for Wayne as a leader that at scale he was able to involve most of his organization to set the plan for the year and for the people to have the opportunity to be heard, to contribute, and to actually design some of these great innovations he would never have thought of, then get an opportunity to actually help implement it.
Every time you do this as a leader, you get smarter, you get better, you learn from it. If you get to do this multiple times, you get better and better each time.
How did Wayne drive a 5-week program with 31 work groups and 177 people globally to solve problems without having a single meeting?
It was all done through collaborative and productive means using the technology available today, with chats, Slack and Google Docs and they get to answers and solutions real fast. You don't have to always have a meeting.
Using the workspace, people can write down what they are doing. You can jump in and ask questions. They can ask you questions. People have the ability to do this, you just have to put it into action.
What was the first significant bet Wayne made with regard to his new organization?
Wayne wanted to make sure they have the best people because you win with people. Customer success through employee success is a mantra that Wayne and many others have used. That's why it took so long in the 30-60-90s because he was spending time with the people. Without the people, it won't work.
The very first investment he made was in the people, and the first group of people he made the investment in, were every single people manager in his organization. Across his entire global organization which is a third of the entire company, every single people manager is being given access to a leadership program.
And why did he invest in those people? One of the things he's learned and understood in his career is that your organization is as strong as your managers.
What is the exponential impact of great people leaders?
If you have great managers, they know how to coach. They don't tell people what to do or how to do it. They coach them. They grow them. They create the next set of leaders or create A players and collaborative teams. When you invest in the leaders, you invest in everybody.
When it comes to leadership training programs, most organizations still focus on delivering solutions that involve several days in a physical or virtual setting where they focus on concepts, activities and simulations.
The problem with this approach is that it is dated and does not serve today's leaders. You simply cannot expect someone to attend a one-time event, learn a ton of information, and then magically put it all into action when they get back to their job.
Learning, especially when it comes to leadership, doesn't work this way.
It should be about the constant understanding, learning, action, experience, and feedback, that the more you do it, the better you get, the more you learn.
So Wayne searched high and low for a leadership program that's that impactful, is 12 months long, has workbooks, content, assessments, and flexibility on what you're learning so new people can come into the program and not be behind. And he found the B2B Leaders Academy.
Wayne needed to up-level his people leaders. WalkMe is a fast-growing company and it is imperative that they have the best talent. That's where they started. They're investing in the people to allow them to be the best version of themselves they can be.
Why should you invest in your people leaders? Because your customers deserve that and your employees deserve it too.
B2B Leaders Academy is the program created and run by Nils Vinje. It was designed to address the biggest challenges that exist from a leadership development perspective in today's fast-paced ever-changing world.
It's all about picking a focus every single month and then getting access to leadership tools that empower you to handle any situation. And when you implement those tools, you then get results. Nils pairs training with access to coaching every single week so that there is a forum to discuss how the tool applies to each person's individual and specific situation.
Wayne said that the single most important investment that he made in the first five months of being a CCO of a publicly-traded company was in his people leaders because it has an exponential growth impact. He knew that he was not only investing in his people leaders, he was also investing in his entire organization.
How did Wayne secure a significant budget to invest in his people leaders?
There are people who just trust and these people trusted Wayne to do this. There are also other people where you have to earn their trust so you have to spend your time explaining and taking them through the why's and the lessons you've learned and evidence you've gathered over your career that suggests that this is the right move.
Everyone has a different opinion. Ultimately, the outcomes and the impact will only matter 6-12 months from now. So to do that, aside from the assessments that his people leaders are having in the B2B Leaders Academy, they're also setting a baseline where they allow their employees to rate their manager across a certain number of leadership characteristics.
This will show what was the improvement and the employees are going to tell them if it's a worthwhile investment or not. Their goal is to see where everyone is at and if they're now doing the things great managers do because they invested all this money.
The leaders will embrace it or not based on their own personal philosophies but the opportunity is there for them to grow and become the best leader they can be through the program.
If you want to get budget approval to invest in your people's leadership development, you may have to give up a bunch of budgets to make it happen.
Instead of convincing the HR team to increase their budget, sacrifice the things your team really knows that they need to do this. It's that important. If you know that this is the right thing to do for your people leaders to be the best manager they can be for their team, you have to convince your leadership team why they're giving up their headcount for the year to go put their managers through a program.
Don't let the budget stop you. You have the money. You just have to decide where to spend it. If you've seen and understood the impact it can have for your people and your organization, this is going to be an easy bet to make.