OpenTable interacts with 21 million diners each month, and is connected to 40,000 restaurants worldwide– and the company’s growth isn’t slowing anytime soon. The cumulative amount of diners seated because of OpenTable has officially surpassed the earth’s population? Let that sink in.

So what’s behind all of that success? There’s no denying that OpenTable’s culture, which breeds motivated, creative employees, should get the credit. Recently, BetterWorks had the opportunity to sit down with OpenTable’s SVP of People & Culture, Scott Day. Scott is also a founding member of the BetterWorks HR Industry Council. He shared his thoughts and ideas on performance management and company culture.

BetterWorks: How did you enter the HR world?

Scott: I used to say I hate HR. It was through my time spent in the Marines that I realized there was a bigger world out there. I started caring about HR practices when I was in the Marines – especially the leadership aspect of HR. “Are we born with leadership skills, or are they traits that are developed?” Leadership development is something I have been passionate about for years and this passion has led me to where I am at today.

BetterWorks: As managers, what should we be doing to develop leaders, to encourage employees and create a culture of trust and empathy?

Scott: You want people to want to come to work. The best asset you have is your people and you need to work really hard to keep them. Also, remember that “culture” can be interpreted in many different ways.

BetterWorks:  How do you define culture?

Scott: Start by asking yourself these three questions: What is normal around here? Who are we? What are our goals?

I think people can get hung up on values and the mission, which are important, but you have to know your employees and really know who you are at the core.

BetterWorks: How should you assess your company culture?

Scott: Ask questions like, “What is wrong with the world that needs to corrected and what is right about the world that needs to be protected? And how does that come together in what you are doing?”

“Leaders must be clear about the culture they are trying to implement.” Truth be told, the best judge of company culture is not the internal employee, but a stranger who walks through the door. What do they notice? Are you welcoming? Are you hard-working?

At its core, culture is what makes you different from other places. There are not good cultures or bad cultures – it is like a personality – you just have one. What kind of talent are you attracting and hiring?

BetterWorks: How has BetterWorks continuous performance management helped OpenTable stay aligned, on task and transparent?

Scott: Performance management is like a medicine and you have to figure out your company’s sickness before you apply the medicine. As leaders, we have to know our company’s strengths and cultivate a workplace of honesty, care and love. A positive, welcoming company culture can be a reality for every company.

BetterWorks: In your experience, how important is it that HR and company leadership (CEO, manager, etc) are aligned and continually on the same page?

Scott: Alignment is a key characteristic to have with your CEO, supervisor or boss. It’s a core value that needs to be in place in order for you to have latitude to do your job well – for the long run. Without this alignment, goals are unmet and progress becomes stagnant. If we want to be companies that are continually evolving, HR and company leadership must be on the same page.

If you have been thinking about evolving your organization to a culture of continuous feedback, contact us to try BetterWorks with your team, free.