Flow 2018 speaker Spotlight: Mark Mader, CEO, Smartsheet
As Flow 2018 fast approaches, our Speaker Spotlight series will help you discover more about the C-level pioneers appearing at our global leadership summit. First up is Smartsheet's Mark Mader.
Ahead of his break-out session sharing leadership secrets from inside a SaaS unicorn, we caught up with Smartsheet's Mark Mader to hear his thoughts on new employees, teamwork and scaling effectively.
Building an effective work culture
Smartsheet is a SaaS unicorn with history. After launching in 2006, the cloud-based work management tool looked to scale in order to excel. After a slick redesign and reduction in features, 2010 saw the beginning of its high-growth journey.
At the helm is CEO and President, Mark Mader, a leader known for his integrity, tenacious attitude and dedication to building an effective work culture.
Based in Seattle, Mark leads a team of over 900 employees servicing over 74,000 customers. In the face of such rapid growth, he spends a lot of his time thinking about those people – especially the new hires whose fresh ideas and perspectives keep Smartsheet on its toes.
You have to put mechanisms in place beyond an open-door policy
But unlocking those insights can be tough. "Which new employee on day 13 is going to come to the CEO's office and say, 'I've got this incredible insight?' No way, no chance," says Mark. "You have to put mechanisms in place beyond an open-door policy."
So how does a busy CEO engage new employees? "I do 6-to-8-person lunches with new people cross-functionally," recalls Mark. "I'll ask questions like, 'What did you observe? Did you have an idea that came from it? What did you do when you had that idea?'"
You have to graduate insights into recommendations and help get stuff done
That last question is the important one: "Most people give themselves a gold star because they had a fantastic insight – but it doesn't help build a SaaS unicorn if they do nothing with it."
"You have to graduate insights into recommendations and ultimately help get stuff done. You have to enable teams. You have to stoke the fire – especially with new people."
Connecting on Workplace
Getting to know new people is always time well spent. "I've become very deliberate about celebrating new employees," says Mark.
"It's easy just to think, 'We've got to retain all the experience. A new employee has the incredible luxury of having pristine lenses. Mine are all dirty – I'm looking through a 12-year bias. I celebrate the heck out of new employees."
With Workplace, I feel connected to more individuals, and employees have a medium to pose questions.
A lot of that celebrating happens on Workplace. Not only does it keep Mark more connected to day-to-day operations around the business, it means he can easily leave a comment, or even just a "like", on posts that catch his eye. That kind of engagement goes a long way.
"It's allowed me to scale effectively," says Mark. "I try to engage with people but I don't have a tonne of time. Smartsheet has employees in Boston, Seattle and Scotland. With Workplace, I can connect with them, live."
"Now I feel connected to more individuals, and employees have a medium to pose questions."
What is Flow?
Flow is Workplace's global leadership summit, taking place on Tuesday, 9 October 2018 at Hotel Nia, Menlo Park, CA.
Together with customers and best-of-breed partners such as Walmart, Vodafone, Box and Okta, we'll discuss the ways that businesses can connect people to their organisation's purpose, unlock their true potential and empower them to do their best work.
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