Altering the Corporate Culture to Up Standards

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ADOTAS EXCLUSIVE — The dark figure of fraud drove the development of best practices at Memolink.

I harnessed the fear of the unknown and used basic change management to gather support internally. I knew the approach would indefinitely change how we did business and alter our company’s culture. Like many dot coms, my company has an entrepreneurial spirit, and like not-so-many dot coms, we have been in business for 15 years. The culture is well established and the work we do is exciting and fun. Would a company with an innovative and “don’t-box-me-in” mentality openly receive a new set of standards and expectations?

The implementation of the Best Practice approach required two important change management tactics: consistent messaging and constant and varied communication. It was not enough to tell associates that the proposed transition, which included separating processes that traditionally had been managed by a sales team, would benefit the company in the long term. The main component of the message had to be the “What’s in it for me?” value proposition.

At the time, the sales associates had nothing to gain, and, in fact, they would lose commission. For example, when my department rolled out the Best Practice approach to partner vetting, fewer partners would meet the standard and be accepted, which meant incremental commission loss for the sales team.

Money matters create major stress and tension, so it was important that this conflict be addressed early in the implementation process. Management responded by restructuring commissions so that employee motivations were aligned with business goals. This move also made the adoption period for other processes and procedures shorter and less chaotic. In essence, align the money motivators and people will buy in more quickly. Associates were not reeling about their payment structure, but were they and other stakeholders, who were originally unaffected by the commission structure, truly behind the idea?

In order to gain the support of associates and have them believe what I and the company’s executive team believe, that the Best Practice approach would benefit the company in the long term, we used a combination of analytical and emotional appeals. The delivery method varied depending on the audience.

Our CEO used the platform of the monthly company meetings and dedicated over 50% of the time to introducing Best Practices in the early months. During that same period I took the message, identified the people who would be most affected by the change, identified what motivated them, and then delivered a more customized message. Many individuals were moved by the numbers, like the fact that eighteen months ago 14% of one product’s revenue was at risk because of fraud. Combine that 14% with future revenue loss and the litigation risk, and people came to their own conclusion: this is serious.

Money lost from fraud is a terrific motivator, and you can use it to garner support for implementing the Best Practice approach. As you prepare to set the stage for your organization’s stakeholders, ask yourself three questions:

1. Are my employees aware that fraud has occurred?
Not all companies have a blinking red light to alert them of a fraudulent incident. Does your employee have the ability to recognize fraud? Does he or she use a subjective filter for incidents they deem to be too trivial?

2. Are my employees reporting fraud? (If you answered “Yes,” I recommend you trust, but verify.)
About six months ago, my department was investigating a publisher and uncovered fraudulent transactions. We approached the advertiser with the findings and informed the representative that not only had the publisher been terminated but we would also be crediting their ad account for the fraudulent leads. The ad rep refused to report the fraud to anyone else in his organization, the invoice was not adjusted, and the advertiser lost money while the rep padded his pocket. This situation is extremely common.
Are your employees motivated to report fraud? Or have you structured their compensation such that the perceived underpaid and overworked would gladly pocket the money and commit, what is in spirit, white collar crime?

3. Are my partners reporting fraud?
Unfortunately, many companies are not motivated to report fraud because it also reduces their revenue. The leadership of these companies is torn between keeping your long-term interests in mind and creating a return for investors. Any company who has taken venture or institutional money may be even more conflicted. Guess who loses.

If you answered “No” to any of the three questions, you have identified a high-risk area in your organization that is need of attention.

Editor’s note: This is the second of a series from Dianna Koltz, director of best practices and email marketing at Memolink, Inc., on how to use business standards to combat online fraud. Read part one here.

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