Welcome to the Use Case Podcast, episode 257. Today we’ll be talking to Patrick from WorkTango about the use case or business case for why his customers choose WorkTango.

WorkTango’s Employee Experience Platform enables meaningful recognition & rewards, offers actionable insights through employee surveys, and supports alignment through goal setting & feedback.

Give the show a listen and please let me know what you think. Thanks, William.

Show length: 25 minutes


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Patrick Manzo
CEO WorkTango (formerly Kazoo + WorkTango) Follow

Announcer: 00:02 Welcome to RecruitingDaily’s Use Case Podcast, a show dedicated to the storytelling that happens, or should happen when practitioners purchase technology. Each episode is designed to inspire new ways and ideas to make your business better, as we speak with the brightest minds in recruitment and HR tech, that’s what we do. Here’s your host, William Tincup.

William Tincup: 00:25 Ladies and Gentlemen this is William Tincup, and you are listening to the Use Case Podcast. Today we have Patrick on from Kazoo, and we’ll be learning about the business case, so the use case for why his customers and prospects pick Kazoo. So, Patrick, would you introduce both yourself and Kazoo?

Patrick Manzo: 00:46 Sure. So William, thanks for having me, I’m excited to be here, excited to talk to you, I’m always happy to talk about what we do at Kazoo and WorkTango. Also, fun fact, I’ve listened to an awful lot of podcasts in my day, but this is the first time I’ve been on one, so pretty excited to do that. So Pat Manzo, I’m the CEO of Kazoo and WorkTango, we are putting together two great companies Kazoo and WorkTango, which is why we have those two names together right now. And what we do, is we’re aiming to revolutionize how the world’s most forward-thinking companies both engage and inspire their teams through delivering to them an employee experience platform that allows them to understand employee sentiment through actionable surveys and insights, to reward and recognize key behaviors and support alignment in employee success, through goal setting and feedback.

William Tincup: 01:49 So Patrick, I despise software categories, just because I think that most companies, but y’alls would be one of those, they defy categorization. But your customers, what line item, or where do they put you in the budget?

Patrick Manzo: 02:08 So typically we’re going to fall under a people or an HR function in most cases, but I think that as the market changes, and as demographic trends continue to drive significant changes in the labor market, I think we could probably sit in lots of different places within the budget. I’ll give you an example, before taking this role, and before I knew I’d be coming in this direction, in my past life, in another company, I was leading a revenue organization, and I purchased Kazoo, and I fit it into a sales budget. So I think it could fit anywhere that you have a leader that says, “Having a team that is engaged, motivated, and really focused on the task at the end is important.”

William Tincup: 03:00 Right. So within the HR budget, do you fit kind of nicely under the employee experience part of their budget?

Patrick Manzo: 03:10 Yeah. Well look, I mean, I think that when you talk about HR budget being that fine grained, that in my mind leads me to think you’re talking about a larger organization. And we think that the use case that we have really spans from SMB all the way through the enterprise, so if you’re talking a larger enterprise, or larger mid-market company, yes, I think it is probably going to fit under an employee experience, budget, or line item. But I think you could probably fit it lots of other places, I think is closely related to how you manage overall HR operations, how you manage talent acquisition, probably lots of different places that it could fit.

William Tincup: 03:56 Yeah. And again, you’re managing different parts. Again, you said the engagement, inspire, motivation, the experience surveying your alignment to most, let’s say just executives, that’s going to be a lot of different things, but all towards the same path. You’re trying to get basically everyone on the same page, and reward people for good behavior.

Patrick Manzo: 04:24 Yeah, I think that’s right. So ultimately where we think the power lies, and candidly where we think we can differentiate ourselves in the market, is through putting all three of those elements together. So in other words, if you use our product in its totality, you can understand and draw insights about employee sentiment, and how that employee sentiment might vary across various cohorts within your company. For example, if you wanted to understand how your engineers were feeling, versus your product people, versus your sales people, we could help with that. If you wanted to understand how that varied by office, by tenure with the company, really by demographic, so really anyways you want, we could do that, so that’s really the insight and understanding.

05:09 But then the second elements are, okay, great, insight without an ability to take action is not super helpful. What we can do is help companies to take action through supporting and aligning employee goals with company goals, through continuous coaching, and performance, and feedback tools, and through rewarding and recognizing activities that are consistent with company values, or our company goals. So you tie all of those things together, which is the ability to both understand and take action to improve employee sentiment. And then by the way, I go right back to the start and remeasure it again. We think that that’s a one plus one, plus one, equals five scenario. Now, by the same token, we recognize that every company’s in a different stage of their journey, so we’re happy to support only one of those elements as well, but we think that all of them together is more powerful.

William Tincup: 06:03 So insights and sentiment, that’s one part of the three-legged stool. Then action, which gets us to goals. And the third one was…

Patrick Manzo: 06:18 So if the first is understanding at a very granular level employee sentiment, the second one is goals and continuous conversations around how employees can be successful. There’s lots of different ways, lots of different language we can use to describe that. But it’s really about, how do we make sure that what the employee is trying to get done is consistent with what the company needs, is consistent with employee development? How do you make sure that that employee is getting regular, consistent, and meaningful feedback on progress towards those goals? And then the third element is public recognition and reward tools to reinforce behaviors that are consistent with company values, with company goals.

William Tincup: 07:03 I love this, because again, like you said, rinse and repeat, understanding the goals, if done well, then at that point you’re reinforcing behavior.

Patrick Manzo: 07:20 Yeah, and I’ll tie that back to your other question, which you said, “Hey, which part of the budget does this sit in?” And you asked about HR versus other functions, and then you even got more granular. I would argue that I’m really focused first, particularly maybe in an environment where budgets get tight on, why do we make the case that we are indispensable to sit in the company budget, regardless of which bucket you want to put it in?

07:47 And I think what that’s about is every company, and I talk to a lot of CEOs, and every single one will tell you that maintaining engagement, motivation, focus of talent is one of their top three challenges, and they don’t see that changing going forward. So we think we can do that, we think from that perspective, what we do is invaluable. And we think that the piece that’s important about it is that, again, that insight, but also action. And then going back to insight, you can measure, and say, “What impact did your action have?” And we think that also is very, very important in demonstrating the value that the product provides, and we think it’s going to be a great tool for HR leaders, or candidly other leaders to our previous conversation, to have going forward. When people say, “Hey, look, talent is a key challenge for our business. What are we doing to solve that problem, and how do we know if it’s working?”

William Tincup: 08:46 First of all, I love this. And the thing that I’d add to that, is I believe, and I believe HR believes, that 80% of the value comes from 20% of the population, that’s why you have a lot of programs around high performers, high potentials, top talent, A talent, whatever you want to call it. So they could look at this as a retention strategy of that talent, they could look at it for the whole company, that’s cool, but if what’s keeping them up at night is that regrettable turnover, not turnover in general, but just that regrettable turnover, the people that they wanted to keep, but for whatever reason couldn’t, this is a way to do this. This is I wouldn’t say an application, or a tool, or platform, but this is a way to actually do that with top talent.

Patrick Manzo: 09:38 Absolutely, and I’d actually go a little bit further.

William Tincup: 09:41 Oh, please do.

Patrick Manzo: 09:42 So this is kind of my third career, if you will. My first one, I was a United States Naval Officer, and one of the things that we used to say, was that you go into an operation with the ships you have, and not the ships you want. And what that means oftentimes, is that in a perfect world, you’d go out and you’d recruit a dream team, everybody’s an A player. The reality is that we don’t live in a perfect world, and the competition for A talent is super competitive, it’s stiff, it’s tough. And I think that the companies that will be successful will be the companies that are able to do two things. Number one, are they able to at attract, retain, engage and inspire that A talent, but are they also able to develop their own A talent? And I think that the value of a tool that allows you to align goals, and to provide this continuous performance coaching and feedback will be critical to getting that done.

William Tincup: 10:47 A hundred percent, I couldn’t agree with you more. And again, you got to be able to attract them, and into growing them, who you have that you can grow, you’ve got to be able to harvest that talent, et cetera. So let’s talk a little bit about the attraction side of things, what are you seeing from your customers and prospects in terms of how they look at the application as an attraction tool, or a way to differentiate their business and attract talent?

Patrick Manzo: 11:18 So it’s really all about creating a culture, and an employee experience that becomes a draw. The reality is that there are more and more tools that allow job seekers to get a preview of what it’s like to work at a given company, and employment brand and employee experience are key elements of a decision process, where many job seekers candidly have multiple options.

11:51 If you’re a software developer for example, you can fall down a flight of stairs and get a job. And when you exist in that sort of an environment, being able to demonstrate and deliver a superior experience is going to be critical as an attraction strategy. It’s not just about money, that’s part of it, for sure, but I think all the other elements that sit around that, such that a prospective employee looks and says, “Hey, this is going to be a place where I can get better at my craft, a place where I can enjoy the people I work with, and a place where I feel that I can contribute and be part of an organization that is consistent with my views, and my desires. A place where you spend an awful lot of your waking hours.”

William Tincup: 12:39 So a couple things around the three-legged stool, I want to get into this just as basically sentiment on one side. Without names, what’s been something that’s been shocking for you to understand about sentiment, or even your customers when they’re kind of looking at the analytics part of this, that’s something that maybe they didn’t know? That all of a sudden they’re like, “Okay, had no idea that was an issue, or that was important.” Et cetera.

Patrick Manzo: 13:09 So I don’t know if it’s shocking, but one of the things that is continually reinforced for me, both from the perspective of talking to customers, but also from our own experience internally, is the importance of marrying asking the question and understanding what the answer is with doing something about it.

William Tincup: 13:29 It gets back to the action, yeah.

Patrick Manzo: 13:33 Yeah. I mean, look, insight is great, but if I have insight, and if I know what a problem is, and I don’t do anything about it, in many cases, I would be better off not having asked in the first place. From an employee perspective, you asked me, I told you, you asked me again, I told you again, you’ve done nothing about it. And that demonstrates not just indifference, but active disdain for the problem. Now, it doesn’t mean that you always need to go and solve that particular issue, in some cases you may not be able to, but acknowledging and taking some action in response, I think is very critical. The second piece that has been very interesting to me in particular as I’ve worked with companies that have employee cohorts that are younger, that tend to skew millennial, or even later generations, is that folks are very, very focused, and causes are very important to them. Compensation is important to them, development is important. But this question of, am I doing well in my role, but am I also doing good?

William Tincup: 14:46 I love that. So now let’s move to the action part of this, and I want to focus in on goals. And I know it’s going to be an alignment, so it’s probably going to be both, but is this goals that they set for themselves as employees, as individuals? I’m thinking about this from a performance management perspective, and generally speaking, performance management has been looked at as an application for management, even though there’s goals and goal setting, it’s really a tool for management. So I want to kind of dig into, what does goals look like for you in terms of getting people aligned?

Patrick Manzo: 15:29 So an awful lot that I could say in response to that. So first I think that you’re absolutely right, when you say performance management, you are inherently talking about this company first. And not that that’s bad, but I would argue that that is different than employee experience, which is employee first. And as I look at our ideal customer, and when I say an ideal customer, I mean the customer for whom we can deliver the most. We can make the most impact on their business, and therefore have the most valuable partnership for both sides going forward. They’re companies that are very, very forward looking, they place great value on the employee experience, they recognize that talented employees have many options, and that engaged employees will deliver for their customers. Consequently, they place significant value on professional development and development of culture, I’ll come back to that point in a minute.

16:27 And then finally they believe that by authentically listening to employees, understanding sentiment, following that and aligning that with targeted action is the best way to provide that compelling employee experience. So those companies are going to look and say, “Okay, how do we make employees successful, number one? And how do we develop them professionally?” I think that that says that your approach to goals, and here’s where I come back to directly answering your question, needs to be both top-down as well as bottom-up. So look, part of what I need to do for example as a leader, is to articulate vision for the company. We’re going to do X and Y, and not A and B, and so that says that I need to set a set of pretty high-level goals for the company that are consistent with X and Y, and not A and B.

17:21 Then there’s a management task to translate that down into smaller, more manageable, and achievable chunks for various employee cohorts and individuals within the organization, that’s the top-down piece. But there’s a bottom-up piece that says, “Hey, as an employee I want to get better at these three things, and how do I get better at those things? And how do I try to codify them, or enumerate them in terms of goals so that my manager can help me get better at them?” One of the things that I talk about with the team, is that if you think about your work, you can almost think of it as a Venn diagram. So there’s a circle of things that you do because you they’re part of your job responsibilities, and you’d like to do them. They’re things that you’re particularly good at, you’re attracted to them, you find them interesting, great.

18:13 There’s another set of things that are things that you do because it’s a job, and at the end of the day you’re paid to accomplish specific tasks. They may not be things that you particularly like, but they’re necessary nevertheless. But then there’s a circle that sits over both of those, and that’s the set of things that make you better, there are new experiences, there are things that help you to improve on a particular access or dimension that’s consistent with the career trajectory you’re trying to design for yourself. So I think it’s important as a manager, and as an employee, to think about that last circle. And how do I try to make that circle as coincident as possible with the things that I like, and the things that I have to do?

William Tincup: 18:54 What I love about that is you put co-ownership there, it’s the manager and the employee. Not one or the other, it’s both.

Patrick Manzo: 19:04 Yeah, absolutely. And we had a conversation earlier about A players, and can you recruit the dream team, or do you need to build it in some cases? I would argue that one of the indispensable characteristics of somebody who is a potential dream team player, is that individual ownership and desire to get better, call it a growth mindset if you like.

William Tincup: 19:28 I love it. Let’s do some buy-side stuff. What’s your favorite part of the demo? When you get around to this part of showing this part of the software, what’s that part for you?

Patrick Manzo: 19:41 So a couple things, people tend to be really interested when they see the data analysis work that we can do on the backend of the survey. So look, a survey is pretty simple, and it’s a very reductive way of talking about what it is we do, basically you’re asking questions and recording the answers. I mean, not super complicated.

20:10 Where I think the magic piece, if that’s not overselling, is number one, how do we help you design a good, meaningful, and valuable survey, so that the answers you get are worthwhile? But how do you analyze that? How do you do the regression analysis, and understand what the answers are telling you about key drivers? And the piece that’s also pretty interesting is when we show people how they can then go and slice and dice that by various characteristics across their user base. So you can understand how different cohorts feel about particular issues, which has been very, very valuable. I mean, just to give you an example, a customer I spoke to recently had a concern with a specific team within their company, and we were able to look and understand the differences between how that particular team felt about a particular issue. And apologies, I hope I’m not being too vague here to make the point.

21:14 The other piece that I think is interesting, is exciting, is talking about the somewhat viral nature of recognition, and public recognition. It’s the opportunity for folks within the company to provide peer review of what others are doing in a very positive fashion, and there for reinforce those positive behaviors. Performance improvement in my view happens best when it’s continuous and it’s regular, and that’s probably no different than training for anything else. If you’re training for a marathon, you’re not going to go out, and every week run 25 miles on the weekend, you’re going to run four miles today, and five miles tomorrow, and six miles the day after, it’s continuous, and it’s frequent, and that’s what challenges your body to get better. And continuous recognition is what challenges and reinforces an organization to do more of whatever you’re recognizing.

William Tincup: 22:18 Love it. Okay, so questions prospects should ask of Kazoo?

Patrick Manzo: 22:24 That is a great question, a couple things. So I think they should ask us, “How do I measure the impact that I’m getting from using your products?” That’s number one. The second thing they should ask is, “Is the way your software works aligned with our philosophy of talent, and how we’re thinking about managing our workforce going forward?” To be candid I think that if what they’re looking for is a tool to be very rigid, and very hierarchical, and aligned to, “Hey, we do an annual performance review, and we ask people a couple questions once a year.” Great, we can do that. We can do that, we can do that well, we can do that relatively inexpensively. But I think the organizations that are going to get the most value out of our product, and the organizations that I think will go on to be our advocates and evangelists in the market, are again, those that have that forward-looking view, and recognize that a positive employee experience is what allows their team to deliver great customer experiences.

William Tincup: 23:45 Right, it unlocks all of the potential. Some of your favorite customer success stories, without names, without brands, or any of that type stuff? But just some of the things where you look down and you’re like, “Okay, this is why we have this business.”

Patrick Manzo: 24:02 Yeah. So I spoke to a customer about five or six weeks ago, and this was a customer that has a lot of folks that are operating in sort of a retail like fashion, dealing with customers, very distributed, not sitting in front of a computer all day long, but interacting with our product on a smartphone.

24:26 And talking about what a powerful tool our rewards and recognition software was for developing and building the culture, and they had a set of specific, and pretty unique cultural values that they were trying to drive using the software. And what they’re able to do is to set up a series of incentives, starting with a heavy management use of the product to identify when people were doing things consistent with these values, and how they saw that really take root and blossom within the organization. This story probably lacks some of the impact that it had on me, without being able to get into the details. But I guess I’d sum it up as the ability to use the tool, to really reinforce things that were positive and great about a culture at a company, and the ability to create more things that were positive and great.

William Tincup: 25:23 Patrick, this has been fantastic. Thank you so much for carving out time for us.

Patrick Manzo: 25:28 William, it was my pleasure. Thanks for speaking with me.

William Tincup: 25:31 Absolutely. And thanks for everyone listening to the RecruitingDaily Podcast, until next time.

Announcer: 25:36 You’ve been listening to RecruitingDaily’s Use Case Podcast. Be sure to subscribe on your favorite platform, and hit us up at recruitingdaily.com.

William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


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