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Kathleen Hogan: Let tech accelerate your cultural shift

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella put culture atop his agenda upon becoming chief executive three years ago, urging the company to rediscover its soul and reason for being.

Technology has accelerated that cultural transformation, says Kathleen Hogan, the chief people officer at Microsoft.

From Power BI to Skype and Yammer to LinkedIn, Microsoft applies its own tools to enhance communication and share insights among its leadership and 120,000 employees worldwide, says Hogan, who often advises Microsoft partners and customers to let technology fuel their own cultural overhaul.

Speaking recently at Microsoft Envision 2017 in Orlando, Florida, Hogan outlined four examples that show how Microsoft used (and still uses) multiple technologies to shape its culture:

Connecting at scale

Kathleen Hogan: At Microsoft, more than 120,000 people are empowered to connect directly with Satya and we use technology to help enhance that collegial sense of connection. Every month, Satya holds a town hall meeting to speak directly with employees and answer their questions. Employees are able to join in person – or virtually. Through Yammer, employees can share their sentiments about what Satya is saying. That engagement helps us understand what resonates and what doesn’t. Through these technologies, we are engaging employees more deeply and helping shape company culture faster than ever before.

Tools to attract and retain talent

KH: Data dispels myths that might hold us back in areas like recruiting and retention. Predictive analytics help us foresee what factors may drive employee attrition, and we use those findings to feed and nurture our culture. We also use people analytics to gain insights and correlations around things like the power of your peer network, talent and performance over time – even assessing manager behaviors and effectiveness. Power BI gives leaders diversity dashboards showing fresh data on retention and recruiting as well as survey results and sentiments around inclusion.

Creating a learning and sharing culture

KH: To reinforce the value of curiosity and learning, we centralized all our learning opportunities into a single dashboard customized for each employee. We also offer access to, a platform with courses on business, software, technology and creative skills. Given our global workforce and the need to quickly come together on projects, collaboration is key for today’s innovation needs. Our employees connect and communicate through Skype, Yammer and Microsoft Teams.

The company is tracking progress

KH: Each workday, we email a pulse survey to subsets of employees across the company to learn from them and measure their sentiments, including how they are experiencing our culture. This initiative started with questions about whether employees were aware of the growth mindset we sought to build at Microsoft. Then it evolved to “Do we, as leaders, exhibit the growth mindset?” As we make progress, we continue to modify the survey to measure results. These scores are shared with leaders and teams to offer ongoing visibility and tracking toward deeper culture engagement.

Learn more about Microsoft’s cultural transformation on LinkedIn.