01 Feb How we Build and Engage our Team

we do help our employees and do not brag about itHow many companies would allow a warehouse team member to take the busiest month of the year off to go on a music tour?  Not many, but in November 2014 we did just that.

Our stories reveal our values. The things we do for our team members are not done for recognition. They are not inscribed in some big book of Benevolent Company Stories.

We have helped many of our employees reach their personal goals, and we have helped them in their times of need. This is true for many of our employees as a whole, and for all of our employees with more than 10 years seniority.

Here are some examples

We don’t generally talk about these examples:

  • We have advanced money to more than ten employees to help them buy cars.
  • When an employee’s car has broken down and needs to be fixed, or when an unexpected bill needs to be paid, we have never refused to help out.  We have stepped up many, many times.
  • We advanced funds to a team member who owed money to a cheque-cashing service, so she could get out of debt.
  • We have authorized many long holidays and leaves of absence to employees who have requested them for valid personal reasons. 
  • We have adjusted the working hours for three committed employees who have health issues. Sometimes these schedule changes have lasted for over a year.
  • Many times we have hired young people who have small children. Because of their precarious situations, many other companies will not take such a risk. But we did. We felt they deserved a chance. Once we even received a letter of thanks from a member of provincial parliament for assisting in this fashion.
  • We adjusted the working hours for several years for one of our team members – a single mother who was raising a young child and who was also studying to be a nurse. Now she is a nurse.

Our leadership team is human, and as such we do fail some of the time. It’s part of the growth process and it is part of being human. However, I like to believe that we do consistently come through for the important things.

This is who we are. 

We don’t talk about these actions often because we do not wish to claim glory from them. We believe in our people and we seek to help out where and however we can. However it is important that we bring these actions to light on occasion, as part of our commitment to communicating our values through living breathing stories.

It is human nature for people to believe the grass is always greener somewhere else – a better job, a better neighborhood, a better life. We like to think our grass is pretty green here too. We offer a good life balance and a proactive work environment. We truly believe we have done our part to earn the trust of the team.

Engagement is also about focusing on the good.  In just the same way as it is easy to see “greener grass” over the fence, it is also easy for some people to find the negative in everything and to not be engaged in their work, in their environment, and with their team. That is a personal decision. 

But our commitment as a management team is to create an environment where all team members are engaged to at least an eighty percent level. We seek to do this in two ways:

  1. We will behave and lead in a manner that any reasonable person who shares our values and who can balance positive and negative in a realistic way will feel engaged to an individual rating of at least eighty percent.
  2. We will replace those team members who cannot find themselves to be engaged despite all our effort.  When we do this, it is never done on a whim. It represents our commitment to our entire team to provide an engaged environment.

So, most of our stories are good. But it is only by knowing the whole story, which includes both the good and the bad, that you can understand our values and who we are.

The full story

I have encouraged my team members to reach out to their colleagues and get the stories first hand; the full story – not just the bad but also the good.  I have challenged them to ask themselves whether the good stuff they hear is mostly “big things” and whether the bad stuff is mostly “small things.” Or vice versa.

Of course I have invited my team members to share their discoveries with me, because that’s where engagement starts; through connection.

A company is only as good (or as bad) as the people within, and it has always been my goal to have great people around me, and to remind them of that greatness through our words and through our actions.

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