Recently, twelve Mid-Missouri business-people, each of whom has implemented their own culture-cultivating strategies for their businesses, met at the Broadway Hotel for CEO magazine’s quarterly Roundtable discussion. Each attendee came ready to share their unique perspectives on the issue of a healthy company culture, a subject that is changing the name of the business game.
Recognizing the weight of this popular business topic, we wanted to share some of our favorite quotes from this Roundtable discussion. Hopefully, these quotes will help our readers further understand the importance of a healthy company culture and inspire them to implement some fresh strategies for developing and cultivating one their own.
“A lot of things are culture killers, but one thing I would throw out there is low trust. When people feel like they can’t trust their leadership and their teammates and they can’t be trusted themselves, it makes for a tense work environment. Any other efforts are not going to work without trust.”
– Ian Franz, Director of Culture at Veterans United Home Loans
“For me, it’s all about leadership. If they don't support it or buy into the idea, or if they are not leading by example, the culture will go nowhere. It's one thing to have it written out on a piece of paper like, ‘Thou shalt believe in X, Y, and Z,’ but if it’s not demonstrated, it's quickly forgotten.”
– Katie Lottes, Human Resources Director at CARFAX
“Everybody in the organization has a responsibility for fostering the culture they want. Everyone on our team has the same objective of continuing to build the culture that they experienced in the first few weeks or first few months on the job. That’s a personal responsibility that everybody plays a part in.”
– Gary Thompson, President and CEO of Columbia Insurance Group
"Culture is going to develop, whether you like it or not and whether it’s good or bad. To have a successful culture, leaders must be courageous. That means, addressing those people who either aren’t embracing the culture, or aren’t performing well. If you don’t address it, your employees will just see your culture as writing on a wall.”
– Peter Callan, Director of Talent Acquisition and Development at MU Health Care
“The biggest barrier to building a healthy company culture is allowing it to develop on its own. If you say, ‘Well, it’s just going to become whatever it becomes,’ then that’s all you’ll get. You have to know what your vision is for your culture. You define that, you hire to it, you retain to it, and that’s how you make sure you get what you want out of it.”
– Deanna Herwald, Vice President of Quality Management Systems at MidwayUSA
“I think that the core tenet for positive culture is authenticity. Authenticity is how we can have trust. It's how we can make sure that everything starts from the top down and everything is communicated most effectively. Your culture has to be real more than it has to be anything else. If there’s one thing you do, it’s be true to yourself. If you know who you are and who your teammates are, then you’ll be headed in the right direction.”
– Caleb Messer, Vice President of Business Development for Columbia Safety/GME Supply
“Along with being authentic, we talk about making sure that our words and actions match up with our policies that we have as a company. We are always making sure that we are communicating what’s important or what’s not important and we always look at our actions and our policies to make sure everything is matching up to that.”
– Kelsey Meyer Raymond, Co-Founder of Influence & Co.
“We have to have fun. The industry that we’re in is highly regulated. If you make too many mistakes in our business, then it is in the news and it's generally not good. A good culture starts with being nice, having fun, and taking care of people's hearts.”
– Todd Culley, CEO and General Manager of Boone Electric Cooperative
“Culture is being very family-oriented. We care about everyone's families because we are a family based company. So, for example, if something comes up, our employees know they've got the freedom and the autonomy to go take care of business so they can come back in the right mind to take care of our business. We believe that family comes first, then community.”
– David Coil, Executive Vice President of Coil Construction Inc.
“Probably the biggest thing we do is serve our community. Our two largest community service initiatives are our Children’s Miracle Network Radiothon, which raises over $250,000 in two days every year, and our Honor Flight Radiothon, which raises enough money to send two planes, each filled with Veterans, to visit their war memorials in Washington, D.C. The great thing about our community service efforts is watching our employees, our listeners, and our advertisers all come together and seeing how happy it makes everybody. The support we see from everyone is definitely the coolest thing about it.”
– Carla Leible, General Manager of Zimmer Radio & Marketing Group and Inside Columbia magazine
“From day one, we tell our employees that it is their responsibility to be actively involved in organizations outside of ours. We say, ‘It's up to you.’ It's one of those built-in things where over a period of time, they understand that we are committed to helping improve the community. We do all kinds of things to make our employees aware that we're going to continue this tradition of community involvement as a long term goal. We tell them that's how we are going to grow our business and they buy into that.”
– Joe Henderson, President of Central Bank of Boone County
“I’ve learned that during the interview process, you always want to know if candidates have the skill set that you need, but I’ve started focusing a lot of my questions on digging in to see if they fit the culture that we want. A culture can be tainted very easily. If someone doesn't know how to do some roofing or siding, we can teach them that, but if they come in and they know all of that, but they have a terrible attitude… Well, I'd rather teach them how to hang siding than how to be positive.”
– Barry Roewe, President of TrueSon Exteriors and Construction
We hope that this insight provided you with a taste of what it takes to build a healthy company culture of your own! It's certainly an important topic that we believe today's business leaders cannot refuse to ignore. Be intentional in building a culture that your entire staff can take pride in. Your employees (and your positive sales numbers!) will thank you for it!