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You don’t have to short-change employees to focus on customers

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When Mark Organ co-founded Eloqua in 1999, he was a self-described “maniac” for customer success. He devoted much of his time to accompanying his sales staff to client meetings, looking for every opportunity to delight customers and exceed their expectations.

Organ’s emphasis on pleasing customers paid off: In late 2012, Oracle acquired Eloqua for nearly $1 billion.

In 2010, Organ launched another tech company called Influitive. As the CEO, Organ still focuses on customers, but he also seeks to curry favor with his employees.

At Eloqua, he became so preoccupied with addressing customers’ concerns that he overlooked his workforce. He didn’t pay sufficient attention to the organizational culture or engaging employees.

“Too late in my [Eloqua] tenure did I learn that happy employees are key to category success, because nothing drives customer delight like delighted employees,” he says.

Today, Organ cites management guru Peter Drucker’s observation that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” When staffers enjoy their jobs and feel pride for their employer, they contribute to the company’s success. Strategy’s effectiveness depends on employees’ willingness to produce great results.

For Organ, crafting a winning culture doesn’t mean offering lots of fancy perks. Instead, he equates culture with attracting and retaining highly trained and motivated managers.

Supervisors who embrace accountability, transparency and inclusiveness create a more positive work environment. This fuels a culture where employees can say what they want to say in an open, honest climate of trust.

— Adapted from “The Second Timers,” Jason Lemkin, www.saastr.com.

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