Change Creates Change: How Centrical Met the Challenge of 2020
Operating under the strain of a pandemic for nine months last year was truly unprecedented. It brought changes to where, how, and why we work few could have imagined. In this post Centrical's CEO, Gal Rimon, explains how they embraced change such that it created a culture of change that will remain part of the corporate DNA well after COVID-19 is under control.
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Dictionary.com labelled “pandemic” its word of the year. Users of the online reference site chose “unprecedented” as their choice for 2020. Operating under the strain of a pandemic for nine months last year was truly unprecedented. It brought changes to where, how, and why we work few could have imagined.
I saw that in the people who make up Centrical, the company I lead. They embraced change to such an extent it created a culture of change. One that impacted our company and will remain part of our corporate DNA well after COVID-19 is under control. Let me explain.
The Change in Where
On March 13, 2020 our employees went from working in our offices to their homes. In a proverbial snap of the fingers, we went from being surrounded by coworkers to operating in isolation. To keep our spirits and productivity high, we made greater use of the employee engagement and performance management platform we market to large companies across the globe.
With the platform, physical distance between teams and managers simply didn’t exist. And we didn’t miss a beat. Which is meaningful because while changing work our venues, Centrical’s dedicated Customer Success team was assisting customers do much the same for tens of thousands of their own employees.
We quickly saw ongoing, bi-directional communications as a key to making the shift to working from home (WFH) work. In less than a month, we added a module to our platform, called Centrical Connect. It lets customers connect with every employee across their organizations. It helps to keep everyone informed, focused, and driving forward. It even facilitates deployment of remote, digital-based training; so important given the need for reskilling and upskilling. Customers with a few hundred employees using our platform were now able to connect with 50,000 in a matter of a days. It made working from anywhere more than tolerable. It made it effective.
The Change in How
Pre-pandemic teams within our company held weekly stand-ups; quick meetings to make sure all were on the same page about what had been done, was being done, and needed to be done. With COVID-19, such gatherings took place daily. At the leadership level, we were huddling twice each day. The thought being if you’re moving fast, you can get way off course, even lost, quickly.
Interestingly, we held 3X the number of all-hands meetings between March and December 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. Clearly, we changed how much we communicated, as a company, among teams, and peer-to-peer. It’s as if we adapted the tagline used to describe the holistic nature of our platform – Better Together – to how we can do our best work. Even a pandemic couldn’t get in the way of our being better together.
Centrical has offices in New York and Israel. Before COVID-19, people flew back and forth on a weekly basis. Those offices were designed with plenty of places so people could work shoulder to shoulder to get stuff done.
To my delight, I saw much more collaboration occur in our physically separated work mode than before the health crisis. Sure, the spontaneous interactions that naturally occur in an office setting evaporated. But I saw people motivated to make connections with colleagues to, well, get stuff done.
Reflective of that, we added another relevant feature to our platform in April. Called Conversations, it allows for private one-to-one or team-wide communications. Questions get posed and answered quickly. Updates get shared in an instant. Knowledge sharing among peers is fast and easy. And focus on tasks and targets is kept sharp.
Along with that, our Sales team changed how they pursued opportunities. Yes, with more collaboration. But also adjusting to a situation where all sales are inside sales. They found new ways to create and build relationships with prospects. And then successfully close the deals. I am proud to say Centrical gained a number of top-tier logos during the last three quarters of 2020.
The Change in Why
I like to say a new customer joins our family. We’ll do what we can to help them in difficult moments. And celebrate with them in times of joy. As is the case in most families. Perhaps that’s why we’re always striving to improve the capabilities of our platform. To further help them help their employees perform.
For many companies, including some in our family, the past several months have been difficult. That prompted a third change – why we work. In fairness, it’s not a change so much as a change in its intensity. Its velocity.
The devising and deploying of the Connect and Conversation capabilities in March and April were not matters of convenient timing or limited bursts of innovation. COVID-19 made our employees more determined than ever to advance our platform, to bring greater value to customers and their employees. As evidence:
- May – a new video recap of employee performance so individuals could see their progress in a fun way. It was enhanced in August
- June – all manager capabilities available on mobile devices
- July – adaptive coaching tools added to help managers help their employees grow. Enhancements made in October
- September – a media upload feature to let a manager react to material from an employee
- November – a cleaner, more intuitive user interface for the manager on mobile
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, new and improved capabilities are ready to roll-out as 2021 gets underway. To bring more value faster. To be more of a strategic partner to our customers. That’s why we work as we do now and in the days ahead. In a culture of change.