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How the Indiana Department of Revenue became a top place to work | Ep. 109


In such a significant portion of our employee base is excited to be on this journey. But that number one obstacle. Right out of the cates. If you would've asked me on that day if I thought we would be where we are today I would have said Gosh. I don't know AH welcome to another episode of the Roi podcast presented by the Indian University Kelley. School of business. I'm your host Matt. Martel here on the show you are. Mission is to help organizations make better business decisions. This is your first time joining us. We just want to welcome you to the Kelly family here on our show. You will find line. Bevy of resources from top faculty within our school to leading industry professionals sharing their secrets of success. So be sure sure to check out a bunch of the episodes to find some specific that meets you and for all of those who have been with us for a while we just want to say welcome back. Thank you so so much for spending your time with us here on the show. If you have any questions you're wrestling with as an organizational leader if you're looking for some faculty expertise not on a specific topic or you simply have guessed that would make a great person To interview on our show since an email to our ipod that's our oh I he od at up y dot edu well with it being toward the end of the year. It is that time again when the indie Starr's ars top places to work surveys. Getting Ready to go out. And it's an exciting time for many organizations especially if you're an organization that has a really rough stigma coming into the workforce on today's episode. We are sitting down with Adam Krupp Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Revenue. Who who helped build the Indiana Department of Revenue's culture so much so that they made the twenty nineteen top places to work according to Indianapolis Star Adam? Just want to welcome you to the podcast. And congratulations on such a huge success. Thank you very much. It is an honor to be here so I really appreciate you having me Someone who grew up in Indiana is part of the Indiana diversity education network as well I feel very privileged to be a part of this. And Yeah you got right to the punchline with the top workplaces survey results For the Indiana Department of Revenue. Which I love to talk about? It's it's something truly special. It's something that literally had never happened before for any state government agency so we were proud to be. I If you if you think about where we were before to where we are now in terms of being on that list of top fifteen large organizations us from the top workplaces survey it is the complete turnaround and transformation of government agency. Some might say it's a worst to first first scenario shirt. Let's go back to this to this journey. So you have a place like the Department of revenue almost seems like it's a place you go in like exile. You know if you do something bad in state. Well we're going to send you the Department of Revenue. I mean it just hasn't stigma and yet you have now taken this this organization his ation or this part of the state government and made it a place where people now want to be a part of. So how did this begin. Take us back to the beginning of where you got into this position to be able to even have this vision for making the top place to work. Well I I can personally take us back to my own career and my journey Ernie not just as a professional and as a student of organizational leadership and culture who ultimately someday wanted the opportunity to do you something like this so in my career. After leaving Indian universities mckinney School of law. I went to New York City to practice into large which corporate law firms as a litigator. And if you know anything about large New York City law firms They don't necessarily pride themselves on a positive live healthy culture. It's all it's very business driven. It's about you know Profits per partner and and doing a great service and justice for their clients. I mean it's a very business business driven focused And the culture just kind of is an afterthought so I am of the belief that culture drives everything and I think that's the necessary assery foundation so I wanted the real opportunity someday. To to build a culture that could then allow employees to thrive on the values news in the mission and the vision and the purpose of the organization. Why you exist so government I've always had this draw to government. I've COME BACK TO INDIANA A a couple of times throughout my career I'd like to say now I'm here for good and the opportunity and government is really you know you can make it what you want. Ultimately we all have the same purpose which is to serve the citizens of our state so being a purpose driven organization that that stuff should come easy in terms of knowing why we're here now I will be the first to admit that a lot of government agencies sometimes forget that and I think if I've been a part of some of those but working through My prior government agency seeing how state employees work how they operate but importantly how they're perceived from the outside and then once you're inside that network and that fraternity if you will There's a passion in within you not just to serve the citizens of the state and to deliver great government service as Governor Holcomb says but also to do something about it in terms of perception perception. So folks on the outside no how hard we work What we do every day and why we do it? So after being at at Indiana Bureau of motor vehicles as the general counsel Prior to this job again I was I was quote unquote just the lawyer for the organization. But I was put an a place where I had an opportunity to help With a small group of five or six of us who are the quote Unquote Executive Management Team to really a build something Because that organization was taking some beatings publicly We were struggling the morale of the employees base. which has over a thousand was not great? It was not what you want. Not what any leader would want to see or walk into so I in terms of fixing Xing public perception at the bureau of motor vehicles. We also saw an opportunity to fix the culture of the organization because we thought you know if you have happy smiling employees who enjoy what they do in our mission driven and believe in the purpose of why they're there that will show to customers and to citizens you you interact with so we had an opportunity to do that and Next thing you know there's an election. We have a new governor and the opportunities presented to me to be be at the Indiana Department of revenue. And as you had sort of lead things off Segue into this particular question. Yes there is. There's a tough stigma out there. Her with the Department of Revenue. I think the IRS probably suffers the same fate because we often find ourselves in what is otherwise as an adversarial position with folks at the beginning But that doesn't mean we're heavy handed. It doesn't mean we're mean it doesn't mean we're bad people But fighting fighting that perception as a challenge so from day one I knew I knew this was going to be a special time for the organization and I put together together a leadership team and we all sat down together and said look we all know what we do as an organization. We know what we don't like about it because we mostly came from from the outside These are folks who either came from the private sector or other agencies and we came together and said look we have an opportunity to do something really special which is to build a culture that we want and to streamline processes and update operations and introduce new technology. Oh Gee that's all great but we've got seven hundred employees that are now looking at us for some guidance and inspiration and for me as I've as I've told my team mm-hmm of of leaders here at the organization. The number one objective and primary goal of a leader for an organization is to inspire other people to be the best version of themselves us so at the Department of Revenue. I view that as my job every day is to inspire everyone call center returns processing people who are opening male and imaging people who are on the phones doing audits you name it My my number jobs to inspire them to be the best version of themselves until deliver great government service and so building. A new culture is how we are doing that. Let's go back to the beginning once you have this vision you get here you know in our conversation of the phone. You know you were telling me that you wanted the big biggest challenge available you know where could be the place for particular growth and those listening You know that where you kind of said put me in the hardest place in the hardest time to change so talking to your organizational leader. Let's say you know they you get those people who've been there twenty thirty years as I'm sure you have here especially in the government agencies. They're they're good at their job. They know what to do the they're set in routine but they're not willing to change you know in with. I mean with changing culture. I mean everything's gotTa Change. You gotta get down to peoples belief systems prior to even beginning change. So how did you start taking that. First step You know as if you were speaking to a person who's got those stubborn people on their team that wants to make that shift. How do you start getting that? Buy In from those who have been here and just just do it and you're stuck in their own routine of day to day that's a great question and and let me just go back to my first week on the job so one thing this organization had never done which I believe is critical? Necessary is bringing every single employee together so we have an auditorium here on campus at the government Center campus here in Indianapolis Annapolis and that auditorium seats. Three hundred and fifty people. Now we have more than three hundred and fifty people but With technology today you can also livestream meeting You you could also record it so we brought everyone. It was a packed house. There were people standing in the back. Basically to introduce myself as the new commissioner for the Department of Revenue. I mean that's just so critical to be seen to be heard. I wanted people to hear who I am straight from me And what are my words. And how do I choose to introduce this myself. one of the things. I've learned on my leadership journey. Is that when you are new to the role how you choose to introduce yourself and invite everybody to go on the journey Ernie with you as critical rather than let them Not See you not hear from you. Directly inform their own opinions in maybe based on what they'd heard about you previously sleep or even what they've read about you can really change things and change the conversation so we got in that auditorium and I introduced myself and of course I had a couple hundred people who have been here a very long time. who were looking at me? Like who is this guy He's a lot younger than me. Because when I started in the role I was I was still in my thirties and most of our employees have been here. Twenty five or more years So that's a challenge from the get go but So it wasn't exactly like and this is a message. I think that will come. Hopefully come out through the course of this conversation is it's Never GonNa Happen Right away and getting folks who have been around the ordination for a long time that might be stuck in their ways or not as open to change. That takes time. It takes an incredible amount of energy and passion In in a few expect that to turn around and happen overnight or even in in the first quarter you know three months in. It's just not going to happen. So after introducing myself and allowing people to hear from me directly in seamy amy eyeball. Leadership is critical. And I'm a firm believer in that you've got to be seen and be out there as much as possible Really what. We did aged two to start getting that buyin. Is We completely rewrote. The mission for the Organization K we had a mission statement for the department revenue It was a probably a full paragraph long you. You couldn't say it without taking a breath and honestly nobody knew what it was. And that's that's that's not the purpose of a mission statement right. You want all of your employees to know it. I mean. It's not a memorization test. But you want them to understand Dan the concepts within it you want them to know it at least be able to recognize it so that if they hear it they go. Oh yeah of course or maybe. They're even able to talk about it to others. So we rewrote the mission statement the organization that those first couple a months and what I like to tell people is you know I forget what it used used to say and you know what it says now. I said the critical component of that mission statement is the first three words. The first three words used to say to collect revenue K and to me that drives behavior so I have seven hundred employees in if the mission. And let's let's assume they all know the mission okay. If their mission is to go collect revenue that is statutory purpose. I mean that's why you know. In many cases we exist assist operationally but that drives behavior. And if you've got hundred and fifty auditors you've got people in payments services that are trying to collect act on bad debt or old liabilities. It might drive behavior to be the type of behavior that you're not proud of you. Don't think represents the state of Indiana Anna as a public servant which over time can certainly build that reputation in that perception that we've talked about so we rewrote the mission statement very simple. It's one sentence it and it starts instead of to collect revenue. Those first three words are to serve Indiana. So if you think about what does that. Say to seven hundred people that now work for this organization. I'm not just here to collect revenue. I'm here to serve the state of Indiana and all of our citizens so that was step one. Let's rewrite that mission statement in. I know it's important you know as we've talked about culture and a lot of our listeners under have are starting to understand and have understand. Is that just like you said it does not happen overnight like that one speech of you getting introduced is not going to instantly change the entire landscape and the environment in which people operate like it is going to take blood sweat and tears to go against a a lot of attitude so talk to talk to me. You know as you're rolling out this new mission statement as your your new and fresh in this department. What were some of the most important in things as you look back In the first few months that you had to embody or that you had to be aware of in order to make sure that this sculpture movement was kind of in check in and actually happening so in addition to the mission statement which I think this is important we he also created and drafted a vision for the organization which is to be recognized as the premier tax administrator in the nation but also as a great place to work? Mark Kay in. And you've got a you have to walk that walk. You can't just put it's not lip service you can't put it on a poster. We also came up with core values for the organization. We did not have core values before and many organizations have core values. I always want to say to the leader of that organization and how many of your employees know what those core values are. So if you're not distributing them on a pamphlet or putting it on a poster in the wall Take those away. How many of your employees truly adhere to them embody them in feel like? That's part of the day to day operations of the organization and and so when we put together our core values. I'll just tell you something that people have looked at me and said you know that's kind of odd but we wanted it to be in there. One of our core values. Values is fun okay. It's a government agency. I mean we have leadership integrity respect teamwork service continuous improvement and we also have fun. That is the core value. I feel like I'm an extrovert. So that's part of my personality. Some of the leaders on my team that I brought in are also extroverts. And they're very a positive. They like to spread good Positively throughout the organization but we also have a lot of fun and believe it or not for the Department of Revenue in Indiana. We have a lot of fun here so I just I'm who I am. Authenticity is huge. So from the beginning in terms of embodying the mission in those core values and being just who I am and I won all of our staff to know. Oh I know Adam Adam and I believe this is who he is because he actually walks the walk and doesn't just put core values on a poster You know we talk about it regularly so whenever I have an opportunity to be in front of staff and if it's the whole organization Talking about that first meeting I had introduced myself. We do that every quarter actually really we get the staff and the auditorium and we talk about our mission we talk about our vision and we talk about. What have we done in the last few months that support that mission mission? What are some examples that are concrete examples of? How have we furthered? The organization toward that. Ultimate vision of being recognized is a great place to work and then let's talk about core values so today and even shortly after we introduce them. If I if I'm walking in the hallway and I say well hey let's let's remember why we did that because that's one of our core values Our employees know those core values and they recognize them. I would never do this but if I quizzed all of my staff You know a lot of organizations and even the ones that I've worked in before for if I quizzed my staff on the mission statement and even our core values. I think the success rate would be pretty low. I think it would be shocking. Actually and there's probably family a lot of leaders out there that might not want to admit that but here at the Department of revenue where we are today. I believe we're well over. Fifty percent can recite site the mission and even talk about all the core values that we have at the organization so that in and of itself And that in and of itself has really led let us to build this culture that we have but also create that sense of you know Adam has a mission of vision and as an organization organization we have these core values and and I believe that they're genuine because he lives and breathes those every day what I make a decision that impacts not just everybody in the organization or particular business unit or in a one on one conversation with an individual Maybe it's a fierce conversation it's it's a personnel issue. or It's just an administrative change every conversation ties back to core value and so that tells people that they're very unreal and that we're genuine when we say you know we're promoting core values. It's it's because they actually drive every decision that we make. Sometimes sometimes it's a combination of one of the seven Sometimes it's just one. But when you incorporate those values as part of the vernacular and the conversation nation with your decisions from leadership they really take hold and I tell you there's there's nothing more inspiring to me that brings a really big smile to my face when employees. Maybe they've been here thirty years Tell me they needed to feel motivated. Faded and they were looking for something to inspire them to remind them why they went into government service aside from just a paycheck and paying the bills and we have done and that for them in the last two and a half years k. They're excited about telling me the mission of the organization it's like a I've had people stopped me in the hall or in passing and say hey asked me what the mission is. 'cause I can tell you and then they say it word for word and they're happy and they're proud to be able to do that. I mean these are public servants. People let have probably over the course of their career taken. Some beatings publicly right. At least it's you know it's like wow you work at the department of Revenue. I'm sorry okay okay. And now they're proud to say they work here. The number of people we have that wear shirts with like the company logo on them which I knows obviously big popular thing everywhere. You're you're proud of your brand. Well we've built a brand here that we're proud of And I've had other organizational leaders in state government. Come up to me and say I see your people everywhere her and they mean because they see a polo shirt or a long sleeved shirt when the weather's cooler like it is today and and it's got the the seal of the Department of revenue proudly displayed on their shirt. And I tell you we introduce that in the last couple of years right. We've we've made that available to them. I'm not sure many people would have wanted to wear wear those shirts A handful years ago when the Department of revenue had the reputation that it did. And now that we've been able to change that and change the conversation about who we are and what we do people like telling the story of where they work and why they do what they do and I think one thing that we we we need to really focus. John is simple yet true because a lot of it is to have a mission statement of vision and core values. You know it's something you all you the the basic things you learn in business school you take any business course you know they say you know have a mission have your values. You know where you're going your vision all boil down and I think a lot of organizations organizations. Just do it because it checks box that in order to have a company you have this part of the part of just the check check check completely completely alien. That's that's where I think you set yourself up for failure because it's just as important as the operation if the prophets in the for profit business space The technology that you introduce. I mean it. The foundation of the organization and at the end of the day some of the most successful businesses at one point in time that ultimately failed they fall into bankruptcy. If you read the books about the people that used to run those companies somewhere in in that book is going to be mentioned of the fact that you know we forgot our mission or we forgot our core purpose and values and if you go back to those that's where we failed and you can see that pivot point happened. You know that that was the moment where you could feel the culture shift. You can feel business practices dropping. You can see turnover you you know increasing at a higher rate because it always comes back to what do you. What does the organization stand for? And how can I as a person part of this culture and in this organization make help. That'll do it for this week's episode. Be sure to tune in next week as we wrap up this. Two part series

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