At Qualtrics, a Culture of Empowerment Fosters Strong Team Engagement

How a focus on individuals’ growth helps this local leader boost morale.
Written by Olivia McClure
May 26, 2021Updated: May 26, 2021

Employees need more than pulse surveys and humdrum team-building activities to stay engaged. That’s why many leaders prioritize finding fresh, innovative ways to bring their teams together. 

At experience management software company Qualtrics, Rachel Ruckstuhl understands that an exciting company culture is key to strong morale. That’s why the head of enterprise services for eastern and midwestern North America focuses on giving employees a variety of appealing perks, such as free lunches and cooking classes, to keep spirits high. 

Yet the engagement strategies don’t stop there. Ruckstuhl makes it a priority to understand each teammate on an individual level, connecting them with opportunities that allow them to cultivate their passions; even ones that exist outside of their day-to-day role. 

“If you build that trust right away, they’ll know that you care about their success as much as they do,” she said. Doing so mitigates low points when people are feeling unmotivated and encourages them to take pride in their work. 

Built In Seattle caught up with Ruckstuhl to learn how she uses out-of-the-box strategies to bolster team engagement. 

 

Rachel Ruckstuhl
Head of Enterprise Services (Americas - East & Midwest)

What's a surprising or unique strategy you leverage to improve or bolster team engagement?

We offer team perks such as free lunches, sponsored happy hours and events like international cooking classes, trivia and Whirlyball. These positive, short-term catalysts foster team morale and increase camaraderie. 

But more than any given event, I’ve found that the heart of team engagement centers around establishing a great work culture. On my team, I strive to cultivate three critical components: working together towards an aligned, impactful vision; celebrating shared successes; and unabashedly caring about my team’s growth and fulfillment, both professionally and personally. From day one, I lead with these three components by getting to know each person’s unique goals, interests, values, and motivations. 

It’s interesting that you mention doing this from day one. How early in the process would you recommend building this kind of rapport?

Success must start with the hiring process. You have to hire good people who want to work toward something they can be proud of while showing them along the way that you’re invested in them and want them to be successful. If you build that trust right away, they’ll know that you care about their success as much as they do. Doing so mitigates low points when people are trending down or feeling unengaged. 

 

Team engagement starts with the individual.”

 

If your goal is to build a cohesive team, why take such a person-by-person approach?

I believe that team engagement starts with the individual. When you have a good foundation with someone and show that you care about their development, they’ll let you know early on how they’re feeling and what areas they find fulfilling. By keeping the conversation open, I’ve been able to work with my team to help them find different opportunities, team projects, client engagements or roles that align with their interests and long-term career goals. I’ve had people who have specific interests outside of work seek out and connect those passions with available projects, whether it be in leadership roles, product development, marketing or sales. In doing so, my team has been able to continue to grow, achieve impactful objectives toward our shared vision, remain engaged and fulfilled, and work toward their long-term career goals.

 

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