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Art Papas Appears on “Leading Matters” Podcast

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Each week on his “Leading Matters” podcast, Joel Capperella talks with leaders across the country to discuss culture, mission, values, talent acquisition, strategy, and growth. For his most recent episode, Capperella interviewed Art Papas, Founder and CEO of Bullhorn, to find out what it takes for a leader to radically transform a company’s purpose.

According to Papas, when Bullhorn was founded in 1999, it was a very customer-focused company. How could it not be? The company needed to treat each new customer well, because that’s what it took to survive as a company. But as Bullhorn began to experience rapid growth, the company drifted away from that way of thinking. As Papas put it, “We had a great technology solution, we had good marketing, good salespeople, good people in general working for us…but we got to this point where I think we started to believe our own press.”

In fact, the mission of the company (“To Power the Desk of Every Staffing and Recruiting Professional Worldwide”) eventually got shortened to “Global Domination.” It was funny at first, but it eventually became a poisonous way of thinking. It even found its way into PowerPoint presentations! The company had lost its focus on the customer.

Customers started to leave, customer satisfaction metrics had plummeted, and Papas realized that he had to turn things around. He changed Bullhorn’s mission to “To Create an Incredible Customer Experience.” People thought it was nostalgic, that it didn’t fit the company’s culture. But by changing the organization’s goals, Papas found a way to shift the focus to existing customer health. Says Papas, “You can’t really focus on two things at once – that’s how you go cross-eyed. You have to focus on one thing that’s most important at any given time.”

Bullhorn’s leaders made sure to highlight internal successes resulting from a focus on the customer experience. At the company’s monthly Town Hall meetings, individual employees within the organization were showcased for their “heroic performances” that benefited customers. According to Papas, “People don’t work at a company just because they want a paycheck…they work because they want to be appreciated and be a part of something bigger.” He goes on to say that “if you want to create a great culture, you have to recognize people who do something great and you have to provide [employees with] career growth. If you do those two things, people will rave about their experience working at your company.”

Bullhorn has thrived under its new mission, and every aspect of the company has improved as a result of “The Circle of Incredible Customer Experience.” Listen to the podcast above to find out more about how Papas’ leadership efforts changed Bullhorn for the better.