Most of us will have come across one of Matt’s creations, eWay, as we run our digital businesses. Matt Bullock is a significant presence within Australian and international entrepreneur circles and it is a pleasure to receive his insights in this interview. Note that despite the size of his enterprise, Matt still has hands on involvement in the hiring process, something that I agree wholeheartedly with. After all, it is the quality of the people that makes or breaks an organisation.
Matt Bullock is one of Australia’s successful serial entrepreneurs. He founded eWAY (payments made easy) in 1998 and formally launched the company in 2000. Matt calls Canberra home even though he has had offices across the globe.
Matt Bullock graduated from the University of Wollongong with a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. Prior to its sale in April 2016, eWAY had over 25,000 customers and processed 5.8 billion online purchases, about a quarter of all online commerce transactions in Australia. Matt has won numerous awards for eWAY and personally for his innovation, including the ACT Pearcey Entrepreneur Award 2011 and the ORIA Industry Recognition Award 2010.
In April 2016, eWay was purchased by Global Payments for over $US50m. Founder Matt Bullock instantly established Spinify, a new venture focused on workplace engagement and staff motivation. Matt was awarded the 2016 Exit of the Year award by Australian Growth Company Awards.
What inspired you to create Spinify?
The opportunity to solve the engagement and motivation of staff. Around 70% of employees are disengaged with their role and their employer. I wanted to make work fun and help organisations reap the benefits of engaged and motivated staff.
According to Gallup’s research, engaged staff are 31% more productive and better at closing sales, 3 times more creative, and can help a company outperform their competitors by up to 202%. I’ve managed sales teams at eWAY and motivated people (whose job is largely iterative) to do more of the business metrics and that matter requires a new approach.
Why are you passionate about employee engagement? How did the concept of the Leaderboard come to you?
Leaderboards provide immediate performance feedback to an individual as they see how they are performing against their colleagues. This motivates them to try a little harder so they are not at the bottom of the ladder. It also highlights to managers the appropriate times to intervene with a team member and offer training or counselling to get them back on track. Leaderboards remove subjective judgements from performance reporting. They show the activities a team member is performing, their progress against their target and the pace of achievement against their colleagues.
What are typical indicators that show an organisation is passionate and successful in the way they engage their employees?
I talked about the benefits engaged staff bring to an organisation. Other than the fact that they uplift in productivity, engaged staff take fewer sick days and are supportive and positive about company goals and objectives.
What are your primary objectives that you seek to achieve?
I want to help businesses be successful as lost productivity costs the Australian economy over $70million per year and in the USA, half a billion dollars. Using leaderboards can change the engagement and the motivation of staff, which has positive company and national economic impacts.
How do you qualify people to bring into your organization?
We have a rigorous process for hiring people regardless of how they will work with the company. We use a lot of freelance people and after placing an ad and scrutinising resumes, we conduct a competency interview and give the person a small piece of work so we can see it real time. On a project, their capability and the quality of their work are important to us.
For employees, the process takes a different route. We scrutinise their resumes and then we conduct a phone interview which shortlists people to a two-step interview process. The first one is with management level people to gauge both competency and cultural fit. Technical people (coders and accounting) are tested and have a benchmark pass level to move to the next interview. The final interview is with me as CEO, and that’s to ensure they can work with me. I have a very hands on approach to managing staff.
If you could give one bit of advice to an employer looking to improve their employee engagement, what would it be?
First off, it has to matter. You have to believe that engaging staff and having them on the same page as you is good for the team and is achieving company outcomes. I can always tell when people stop believing and that’s when they should leave to pursue something else they can believe in.
Second, it takes time and effort. Getting the KPI’s correct and ensuring the rewards match the effort (be they intrinsic or extrinsic) and winners and achievers are celebrated. At the same time, those falling behind need to know that help is at hand.
Third, share performance information to improve the company culture of openness and objective judgement. People are happier when they believe they know what’s going on and there is no preferential treatment for team members.
Spinify is a privately owned, Canberra based, global business. Their leaderboard solution is running in companies across the globe. They have a 24/7 coding cycle and support service. They automate as much as they can so that staff are available to clients at a time that suits them. No single person owns a client and everyone has access to client information so that anyone can address issues. Spinify regularly gets 5 out of 5 for service culture and client centricity.