What Is Company Culture? How Do You Measure It and Nurture It?

Annual Car Wash Fundraiser
Folks from Creation’s BC locations having fun at an annual Car Wash & BBQ fundraiser for The Boys & Girls Club and the children of Bulembu, Swaziland

What is the Creation Culture or Character?

If we do not have a firm understanding of what it is, how do we plan for it, measure it and understand what needs to be done to achieve it? How do we know we are progressing? Or are we already there?

Can you really put a hard number on a soft topic?

Great questions to be sure.

These were posed to me by a Creation team member following a recent People & Culture Scorecard input session. The People & Culture Scorecard is one tool we use to assess our progress on the journey of never-ending improvement in culture. It consists of several categories and includes some results from our People Survey, small-group interviews and review of observable data.

One of the areas of focus on the Scorecard is how we’re doing as Leaders, and in particular whether our Business Unit Leadership Teams take an active role in developing the Creation Culture.

So how do you define a Company Culture, or Character? How do you measure it?

I’m sure many of us at have had, or been asked, these same questions ourselves. My take on it is that I’m not sure if there is a “hard” answer.

I can understand the challenge of putting a “hard” number on a “soft” category like culture. In my mind, the Creation Culture, and a company’s culture in general, is simply “the way we do things around here”.

The way we think about people (paradigms), drives the way we act (behaviors), which drives the outcomes (results).

It’s the basic See-Do-Get model from Stephen Covey’s ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’.

If we truly embrace our Purpose and Core Values, it will affect, drive, and influence the way we see people. This will influence how we behave toward people. And together this will influence the results we get.

As part of a collective company culture, we have the ability to change the experiences of our teammates, suppliers, customers, family, neighbors, partners, etc., really everyone we interact with.

Building on Trust

Another way to look at it is that trust is the fundamental building block for teamwork, and trust requires trustworthy people.

Trustworthiness = Character + Competence

In this context, the company “Character” is one that exhibits the company’s Core Values and pursues its Vision.

How do we know where we are or if we have arrived?

 

First of all, let me say that at Creation we’ll never arrive because that would not be consistent with Continuous Improvement which is at the core of our Pursuit of Excellence® philosophy.

But in terms of judging where we are, we can ask ourselves some questions.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with “10” being the most amazing experience I could imagine and “1” being the worst:

  • How is my team doing at living our Core Values and pursuing our Vision of “Enriching lives by sustaining strong, profitable growth in an enjoyable and caring culture”?
  • How is my Business Unit doing?
  • How is the Business Unit Leadership Team doing?

On a scale of 1 to 10, with “10” being extremely well and “1” being extremely poorly:

  • How do we resolve conflict as a team;
  • As a Business Unit;
  • As a Business Unit Leadership Team?

There are many ways to identify and understand a company culture. Of course, it’s all relative to a point of comparison and so different people will have different answers.

The important thing to determine is “are we improving, staying the same or getting worse?” Where we are is not as important as where we are heading and the slope of the line.

What do think? What’s the slope of the line for your team? Business Unit or operating center? Company? Family? How are you contributing to culture in these environments?

Becoming a Kidney Donor: What Will You Do When Family Needs Help?

Liza Muise

When Family Needs Help, You Do What You Can

What would you do if you, or a family member, were told your kidneys were failing and that you needed to find possible kidney donors immediately?

You would do whatever you could, I bet.

This was the message that doctors delivered just last week to Liza Muise, a Procurement Specialist here in the Mississauga Business Unit.

15 years ago, Liza was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD).

PKD is a hereditary condition that affects nearly 1 in 1,000 people and can strike at any time.

Liza inherited PKD from her father, who passed away last year after fighting the disease for many, many years.

PKD causes multiple fluid-filled cysts to form in the kidneys that cause kidney failure, leaving less than 10-15% of total kidney function. When the kidneys fail, dialysis treatment or a kidney transplant is needed.

Not everyone with PKD will go on to develop kidney failure, but since Liza’s diagnosis 15 years ago, her condition has continued to deteriorate to the point where she now needs a kidney transplant.

Our Liza

I first met Liza in June 2006 when I joined Creation Technologies—Mississauga.

She came into my office and introduced herself to “the new guy”, letting me know that not much happened within the Business Unit that she was unaware of or involved in.

And no wonder! Not only is Liza a Procurement Specialist, she helped cover Reception, was a member of the Social Committee, led the First-Aid Team and had been involved in almost every event since Creation’s inception in Ontario back in 1998.

During her 13-years with Creation, Liza has donated much time and effort to these and other various committees and groups, as well as bringing her skills and passion to the Supply Chain Team and her Customer-Focused Team.

Over time, Liza and I have become strong teammates and friends. I can always rely on her to “tell it like it is”.

So, when she came to tell me her news, I knew I had to reach out to all of our Creation family to ask for help and prayers.

Liza Needs A Kidney

Liza’s doctors have recommended that she try to find possible kidney donors as soon as possible.

Very soon, she’ll have to undergo regular dialysis treatments in order to try and maintain her quality of life. According to her kidney specialist, having a transplant before dialysis begins is always the best solution if at all possible.

Due to the rules and regulations around transplants, Liza cannot go on the “official transplant list” until her kidneys have completely failed.

She’s on her own to start the search immediately.

Becoming a Kidney Donor & Saving a Life

According to The Kidney Foundation of Canada, normally everyone has two kidneys, but we can live a healthy life with one.

Making the decision to become a Living Kidney Donor is probably one of the biggest decisions you can make.

Being a Living Kidney Donor means that you freely decide to donate a kidney to save the life of someone in need of a transplant. For some basic information on donating a kidney, visit the Living Donation page on The Kidney Foundation of Canada’s website.

If you’re interested in getting tested to see if you’re a possible match for Liza, see your doctor for specialized blood tests. Contact me and we can help make sure the results are sent to Liza’s kidney specialist.

 

So what would you do if you, or a family member, were told your kidneys were failing and that you needed to find possible kidney donors immediately?

You would do whatever you could, I bet.

We will too.

Have you ever considered organ donation? Would you consider kidney donation to help Liza?

Start Setting Goals. Change Your Life.

Setting Goals: What are yours?
Setting Goals: What are yours?

Setting Goals May Be More Important Than You Think

My Granny recently celebrated her 96th birthday. She lives very far away from me, in a small town in Ontario, Canada, where she is well cared for by the wonderful staff of an assisted living home.

Her life is busy, but on her birthday she always makes time to chat.

This year, we had a long conversation with many questions about my work—my new team and Creation’s business—and life in general. She is always curious, eager to learn, and happy to hear about what the ’young folks’ are into these days.

As for her, well, when we spoke, she had just finished preparing the facility flower beds for planting, helped identify a fungus that only grows in poor soil, and is excitedly organizing a new music therapy program. And did I mention she regularly entertains her fellow residents by playing piano?

After listening to her talk about her busy schedule and many commitments, I was struck by how much we are alike. It’s not just our love of math, financial markets and getting into trouble.

We are alike because we both see goals as an important part of life.

Before our call I’d heard about a study published by Rush University Medical Center that found fewer ‘plaques and tangles’ in the brains of those with purpose in life – ‘plaques and tangles’ are thought to be a primary cause of dementia, a growing concern in today’s society.

We’ve heard for years that staying active and engaged can increase your life expectancy. Can combatting dementia be as simple as setting goals? That certainly seems the case for Granny. Her energy is remarkable and her ‘marbles’ seem fully intact (so far, she reminds me!)

Be SMART

Setting goals is an art as much as a science.

While we have learned that goals must be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely), they also must engage and challenge in a way that our daily work may not.

Setting goals for oneself should be straightforward if not easy: complete a course, run 20km per week or build a new Excel model.

Goal setting is best when it is collaborative; goal achievement comes only with the support—and sometimes the pressure—of a team.

As a new Leader at Creation, I have started slowly in setting goals with my team. A slow start allows me the opportunity to observe existing practices and identify what works well, and where we can improve. We are starting modestly – but with impact – by addressing our approach to customer service and quote process efficiency.

Our next step – which I am really looking forward to – is identifying our new longer-term strategy and building a set of goals that will help keep us on track. Our team is “SMART” and I am confident that the right goals will provide a great foundation for us to best support Creation.

Shout Out to Granny

As for Granny, I could not be happier to have her in my life. Her energy, tenacity and honesty have always inspired me. She has been a lifelong teacher and has (hopefully!) helped make me a better leader, teammate and person.

How have the goals you’ve set for yourself influenced your life? How have other people inspired you to follow through?

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