Meet Adam Greenberg, CEO of MakeShift. High energy, data & results-driven business executive with 25+ years in the SaaS technology space.
Professional experience as both an individual contributor, sales leader, and executive manager with experience in sales, account management, demand generation, and operations. CEO, Founder, Board Member, Small Business Owner, Sea Kayaking Instructor, and Wine enthusiast/Sommelier.
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Table of Contents
We’re happy that you could join us today! Please introduce yourself to our readers. What’s your story?
Adam Greenberg: After a 25-year career leading global strategic sales and sales operations for companies in the SaaS HCM space like Ceridian, SAP, and PeopleFluent and founding and operating a 501(c)(3) non-profit that support vulnerable children and families in communities facing crisis, I joined MakeShift as President & CEO in May of 2021. MakeShift is an app that helps businesses build, manage and communicate employee schedules giving people their time back to focus on other things that matter.
My biggest claim to fame though is being a Dad to my daughter Ellie who keeps me real and challenges me to be better, every single day.
CEOs and leaders usually have different motives and aspirations when getting started. Let’s go straight to the beginning. What was your primary goal for starting your business? Was it wealth, respect, or to offer a service that would help improve lives?
Adam Greenberg: Initially MakeShift was founded to solve a problem for nurses who were being scheduled when they weren’t available, or couldn’t get a shift when they were available; And, struggled to swap shifts or communicate quickly with colleagues and managers when they were unable to fulfill a shift. Since then we have expanded our offering to support shift workers in retail, hospitality, sports/recreation, and other industries that employ shift workers. As for “improving lives”… isn’t that the whole point of business? The very foundation for business, the very reason it exists is to improve lives. I believe this at my very core.
Tell us about 2 things that you like and two things that you dislike about your industry. Share what you’d like to see change and why.
Adam Greenberg: It’s hard to pinpoint only two things I like about our industry. Tech is fast-paced and constantly changing. I love that because I am constantly challenged. The other thing I really like about this industry is that it matters. I mean to say, it really, really matters. No matter who one is, where one lives, or what one does, we interface with technology almost every single minute of every single day.
That’s pretty powerful. Technology has the potential to literally change the world for the better and already has in so many ways. I could probably write a book citing examples but let’s just leave it at that. If you are reading this you know what I mean. As for things I don’t like, well, it’s hard to say but if I really reflected I would say I don’t like that it separates us at the very same time it connects us.
The biggest source of friction with my daughter for example is screen time. It’s also made us frighteningly reliant. We’ve all heard the jokes about people driving off a cliff (I hope they are jokes) because their car navigation system claimed their destination was straight ahead. I’m not sure I would change anything per se or really know where to start but I see large tech companies employing chief ethics officers and I think that’s a great start.
Companies around the world are rapidly changing their work environment and organizational culture to facilitate diversity. How do you see your organizational culture changing in the next 3 years and how do you see yourself creating that change?
Adam Greenberg: First, I don’t see myself creating the change. Allowing it? Maybe. Accepting it? If I want cohesion, connection, creativity, loyalty and performance, I’d better. Facilitating and empowering the people who work for the company I lead to create it? Absolutely. Companies are a collection of people and not an entity unto itself, and people by our very nature are diverse because we have all come from different, social-economic and cultural backgrounds. This means, change happens because it happens. It is always happening.
Not because a CEO dictates it or wants it or allows it. That said, as a CEO I recognize that I have an important role to play and I am prepared to listen and make informed and conscientious decisions that have our customers best interests at heart. This starts with our employees.
According to the Michigan State University “An organization’s culture is responsible for creating the kind of environment in which the business is managed, and has a major impact on its ultimate success or failure.” What kind of culture has your organization adopted and how has it impacted your business?
Adam Greenberg: I certainly agree that companies have a “culture.” I would also say that a company’s culture is shaped by how it’s managed. The company culture our organization has adopted is very likely defined differently by different people. I would define it as aspirational. We have high aspirations and I think that’s something everyone would agree to.
It’s also skeptical, cautious, and considerate. The people within the business care for each other. They care about our success and have opinions about how we get there. That’s a good thing!
Richard Branson once famously stated “There’s no magic formula for great company culture. The key is just to treat your staff how you would like to be treated.” and Stephen R. Covey admonishes to “Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers. What’s your take on creating a great organizational culture?
Adam Greenberg: “Transparency and Vulnerability” is my management philosophy and the kind of culture I hope to foster if in fact I can influence it. I am honest about the state of the business – the good, the bad and the ugly. That’s not to say I am irresponsible. There are things I cannot share because I am privy to information I am not authorized to share but I am definitely transparent. People want that. They deserve it. I also share my vulnerabilities. I share when things are hard for me. I share when I am excited and I share when I am concerned.
The overwhelming majority of more than 9,000 workers included in a recent Accenture survey on the future of work said they felt a hybrid work model would be optimal going forward, a major reason for that being the improved work-life balance that it offers. How do you promote work-life balance at your company?
Adam Greenberg: I ask the people who work at MakeShift to agree to outcomes within certain time frames. I ask if the time frames are reasonable. I ask if they feel their work environment, tools, and support systems are in place. I then clearly explain what it means for them to achieve these outcomes (ie: variable compensation) to achieve these outcomes or not. I ask Managers to work with their teams to ensure they are supported in the most meaningful and effective ways possible to ensure their staff feels enabled and empowered to achieve these outcomes.
Then, quite frankly, I get out of the way. At MakeShift we “do” work. We don’t “go” to work. I also ask our people to remember why they work and to ensure that the investment they make in us – in each other – in themselves – every single day is focused on those outcomes.
How would you describe your company’s overall culture? Give us examples.
Adam Greenberg: I would describe our culture as ‘Evolving.’ Culture isn’t static. It’s dynamic. I would describe our culture as ‘Supportive.’ People here really want to succeed. They want one another to be successful.
I would describe our culture as Realistic, Open & Transparent: Thankfully, I have yet to hear a yes when I should be hearing a no. I hope not anyway.
It is believed that a company’s culture is rooted in a company’s values. What are your values and how do they affect daily life at the workplace?
Adam Greenberg: Our values are:
- COMMUNITY &
- KAIZEN (Japanese for continuous improvement)
Take note of the acronym. That was meant to be ‘fun’ even though I am nervous about making it public.
I think the way our values affect daily life at the workplace is that it keeps things real. We are real people, doing the best we can every day with diverse backgrounds, dreams, and abilities; And, with a common cause, which is to give people their time back to focus on what matters. To make a great product with great people and to have fun doing it.
An organization’s management has a deep impact on its culture. What is your management style and how well has it worked so far?
Adam Greenberg: I think I covered this earlier but I am thankful for the opportunity to expand on my earlier answer. My management style is ‘transparency’ and ‘vulnerability as well as ‘authenticity.’ We celebrate important KPIs. I am not talking about KPI’s like users of our product (up 40% YoY) nor am I talking about revenue (up 25%) I am not talking about NPS (getting better) or employee engagement (also getting better) I am talking about celebrating ‘what matters.’
For example, two employees bought their first homes. An employee was engaged. Another received an award from his class at university. Another graduated from University and so on. So, I hope it’s “working” but I take nothing for granted. We all have to earn one another’s trust and respect every single day.
Every organization suffers from internal conflicts, whether functional or dysfunctional. Our readers would love to know, how do you solve an internal conflict?
Adam Greenberg: That’s a tough one. Hardest part of the job. People are complex emotional creatures and that includes me. There is so much to consider. My approach to conflict generally speaking is to find and define common ground. Ensure respect for diverse perspectives and offer to be the decision-maker. Given the chance to resolve conflict in a safe environment, I have found that nobody really WANTS a mediator. They want to be heard. They want to feel safe. More often than not, we all want the same thing.
According to Culture AMP, Only 40% of women feel satisfied with the decision-making process at their organization (versus 70% of men), which leads to job dissatisfaction and poor employee retention. What is your organization doing to facilitate an inclusive and supportive environment for women?
Adam Greenberg: The first thing I did upon joining the organization was to seek some gender diversity within the C-Suite. When I arrived, it was all men. In my case, I was lucky because we had a very capable, loyal, and tenured female employee who was willing and able to step into a senior role and she impresses me every single day. One of the outcomes I am striving for is that by having a female making decisions, the other women in the organization will feel that their voice is heard.
What role do your company’s culture and values play in the recruitment process and how do you ensure that it is free from bias?
Adam Greenberg: When recruiting, we share our values and ask candidates to explain how their own values align to that of our organization – and remember – an organization is a collection of people not an entity unto itself. The people who work here articulated these values and I ask that everyone considers these values in the decision-making process every day. I am not sure if it will ever be free from bias. I think people innately want to work with people they can relate to and that’s ok.
We try to introduce some checks and balances by having other stakeholders involved in the interview process and we challenge important decisions in a meaningful and a respective way but no doubt some bias remains.
We’re grateful for all that you have shared so far! We would also love to know if there was one thing that you could improve about your company’s culture, what would it be?
Adam Greenberg: I would like to improve transparency and vulnerability. We are all in this together. Let’s trust each other. This will take time. I have to prove that I mean it so people feel safe. I strive to earn their trust every day not by my words, but by my actions.
This has been truly insightful and we thank you for your time. Our final question, however, might be a bit of a curveball. If you had a choice to either fly or be invisible, which would you choose and why?
Adam Greenberg: I would choose to Fly. Firstly, because I have had so many dreams of flying as a child, and who doesn’t want their dreams to come true!? Secondly, because it represents the art of what is possible. Think about humans flying in airplanes. Think about flying to distant planets and galaxies. Reflect on flying to see loved ones across the country and flying in order to explore new countries and cultures. I want to fly. I want to feel, I want to love and be loved. I want to experience things. I want to see and be seen. I want to contribute. I want to participate. Let’s fly!
Mike Weiss, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Adam Greenberg for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Adam Greenberg or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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