Several years before ‘employee engagement’ became a talking point in boardrooms everywhere, an associate and I had the opportunity to work with a group of young managers whose fresh ideas on workplace culture still resonate today.
These six managers, who were developing and building a new manufacturing company, were convinced that if they had the “right culture” they not only could build a great organization, but also one that could be sustained for many years.
In addition to making a great product, they also knew that if they were to be successful, they needed all employees to believe in and see this new company as theirs. They wanted all employees to behave and act as entrepreneurs. They wanted the employees to worry about the quality of the final product, to have “direct line of sight with the customer”, and to be concerned about each others’ safety. They truly wanted the company to be like a family.
They were convinced that if the company was to be successful, they would need a philosophy of management that would allow every employee to be deeply involved in the company. They coined the phrase “Hire for values and train for skills” and were able to expound upon their management values by developing the simple acronym C.H.A.T.
- C- Courage
- H- Honesty
- A- Attitude
- T- Trust
The new philosophy became laser focused and was present everywhere, from banners to preshift meetings under the encouraging slogan “Let’s Have a C.H.A.T”.
They wanted everyone to understand that they, as managers, were going to stand up for the company values, and expected others to do the same, even if it wasn’t the popular choice. They emphasized that even though other competitors abide by the status quo, employees and managers were encouraged to take risks, because without risks there would be no progress.
Courage was also found by looking out for each other. They believed it was easy to stay silent and allow standards to slip, but it took courage to make sure everyone wore safety glasses and wore the proper PPE.
As managers, they displayed courage by allowing themselves to be vulnerable. They clearly understood that they had the authority of the company, but they also wanted the power of the people. They did not have to make all the decisions, nor did they have to ok every purchase. They allowed the people to think and act as owners.
They also believed in the value of honesty, and they wanted to hire people who lived by that same value.
Honesty is a simple concept, but one that affects every facet of your organization. They simply guided their employees to remember that there are no secrets; you should share you information with others so that everyone can make the right decisions. Avoid being misleading or deceptive and always do what you say you are going to do. Simply put, “just tell the truth.”
Each one of these managers used the term “look in the mirror”, meaning that the team’s attitude is the reflection of the managers’.
If you want others to be positive, then you must be positive. If you want people to care about others, then you as managers need to care about others. If you want employees to be concerned about quality and customer service, then they as managers had to demonstrate the same concerns.
They knew that an environment of positive people is necessary to be successful. The management team realized that one’s attitude may be the only thing in life under their control, but that their attitudes can greatly affect the emotions, behaviors, and responses of everyone they come into contact with.
Knowing this, they fully encouraged employees to interact with customers and external vendors. Not only did this encourage more positive attitudes, but it spread the word to current and future customers – “this is a great company.” Employees felt they could make a positive difference, and so they did.
After a strong focus on courage, honesty, and attitude, the management team knew that something else was needed to hold their organization together, they decided on trust. Trust
was the glue that holds all relationships together, and it would be the glue that would hold their new organization, and their “family”, together.
As a group they determined what trust would look like in the real day to day life of the company, in both the form of a noun and a verb.
Trust as a noun was a responsibility placed on everyone – management and team. They knew they had to be trustworthy in every aspect of their business if they expected the others to trust them and ultimately reflect their values.
And trust as a verb was an outward example, obvious to everyone, of how they thought about the team. They trusted team members to do the right things, they trusted everyone to not just pass the buck, and they showed trust by sharing financial numbers with the team and trusted in their ideas by asking them to come up with ways to improve quality, production, and reduce unnecessary cost.
The new, young managers were convinced that if the company cared about the success of their employees, and the employees cared about the success of the company, that they would have a winner. And they and their company culture are still thriving under these simple yet focused values today.
“The behavior that best creates credibility and inspires trust is acting in the best interest of others.” – Steven M.R. Covey
Roger has spent his entire 49 year career working with and growing people on all levels. His experiences have made him an expert in the Operations Management and Human Resources fields. Connect with Roger on LinkedIn and follow PPI on Twitter for weekly news, trends, and insider insight.