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Culture Is What You Step Over: Establishing Four Core Principles

Discover our company's transformative journey in shaping a meaningful culture, grounded in four core principles - Communication, Teamwork, 100% Effort, and Consistency. Learn how these principles, once mere concepts, became the foundation of our organization, influencing every aspect from processes to product delivery, and guiding us through the trials of a major acquisition.

Choosing the path to shape our company culture was simple in principle but difficult in practice. After working with Bob Scoville for months to reshape how the management team communicated among ourselves, we were finally ready to roll it out deliberately to our employees. This, too, proved challenging. How does one condense such a broad term like culture into something meaningful for the organization? Through team-building exercises, conversations, and a focus on listening, our company settled on four principles that have become the bedrock of our organization. These principles already existed, but articulating them and discussing their true meaning to our company took time and effort.

Communication was our first principle. This could be as simple as company meetings and state-of-the-union addresses to keep the organization aware of changes, challenges, and successes. It is also as complex as listening to the needs, concerns, and ideas of the company as a whole. In our company, good communication focuses on listening first and seeks understanding.

Teamwork was our second principle. Our company recruits and hires college athletes, so teamwork was a natural fit. But who comprises the team? Is it inside sales versus outside sales? Ownership versus management? Distribution versus operations? Instilling the idea that the company is one team in the context of the teamwork principle took time and effort.

100% effort was our third principle. You can't be part of a team and give less than your teammate. This was an easy principle for our company to embrace. As a goal-oriented organization, it's contagious to work hard. But could the organization apply that same "work" effort to adhering to the four principles? Listening first? There were many challenges to the 100% effort principle when applied uniformly across the goals and culture of the company.

Consistency was our final principle, and this one was truly driven by our team members. It's easy to talk about principles and culture and even to adhere to them for a while, but to truly engrain the principles into the fabric of the company required consistency. This principle was evident in our dedication to our customers, the product we deliver on a daily basis, and the effort of our sales processes, but applying it to our culture was a brilliant choice by our team as a whole.

Once we established our four principles and started to live by them as an organization, the company culture began to take on its own life. Processes improved, and our product - sales, service, & delivery - all took a giant step forward as the team communicated and worked more efficiently and effectively.

However, we were soon to learn that our principles and culture could easily be tested by forces beyond our control. A major acquisition of one of our largest lines meant hard decisions for our management team and a real test for our team as we navigated change, stress, and tested our resolve to live by our principles and adhere to our culture.

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