How would you describe the culture at your fleet operation? Is it one that was intentionally created and executed, or is it something that happened accidentally?
If it’s the latter, that’s OK. As our hosts divulged in a recent episode of “The Fleet Success Show” podcast, the culture at RTA was accidental for a long time. And former trucking executive Jeff Jenkins and fleet Hall of Famer Steve Saltzgiver both worked at companies where there wasn’t an established culture.
In all instances, this created negative work environments. RTA CEO Josh Turley discussed on the podcast that for a long time the culture at RTA was one where everyone was really nice to each other. That’s not a bad thing, by any means, but without a formal culture in place, he didn’t have parameters to go by when hiring – or even firing – employees.
Establishing an intentional culture lets you ensure everyone at your operation is “rowing in the same direction,” and they all know what core values are at the center of the operation, and what qualities all employees must have.
So, how do you do that? Our co-hosts provided tips on the podcast.
To start, you must establish your operation’s purpose, core values, and mission. Why does your operation exist? What services do you provide to your stakeholders? What do you want to accomplish at your operation? What are your overall goals?
To learn more about establishing our core values and mission, listen to previous episodes of our podcast.
Or, maybe you have a large goal you want to achieve. In his book “Built to Last,” Jim Collins discussed the notion of a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG). This is a big objective you want to accomplish. It’s compelling and clear, and it unifies your team by creating team spirit around trying to achieve it.
You also need to determine core values. What qualities should each team member possess? When you hire new people, what values are you looking for? When you fire someone, what qualities are they lacking that leads you to terminate their employment?
Patrick Lencioni writes about core values in his book “The Ideal Team Player.” He tells a fable to show how one fictional company focused on only having employees who were Humble, Hungry, and Smart. He showed how they made difficult decisions to pass on qualified job candidates who didn’t possess all three traits, and how they evaluated their current staff to see who no longer fit the culture.
In the podcast, Josh said that once you establish your purpose, values, and mission, then the real work begins. To start, you need to communicate these to your staff.
“My title is CEO, but it’s really CRO – the Chief Reminding Office,” Josh said.
He added that he is constantly repeating RTA’s mission and values to employees. He does it in each team meeting just to make sure everyone knows why RTA exists and what our goals are.
“If you’re not sick of saying it yet, you haven’t said it enough,” Josh said.
He also added that you know you’ve done your job of communicating correctly when your staff can do an impression of you saying it.
Then, once your staff is aware of the purpose, values, and mission, you then need to make sure you stay dedicated to these. If you start to veer off course, it’s the job of the leader to remind everyone where you’re going, and why.
Listen to the full episode of the podcast to get Josh’s book recommendations that he used to help create RTA’s core values.
It’s also the leader’s job to ensure your employees are all dedicated to the mission and values.
Josh uses a unique technique to ensure he has the right people on his team. In a concept he got from InfusionSoft, after an employee has been at RTA for 90 days, Josh will offer them 10% of their salary if they decide this isn’t the place or the job for them. Instead of keeping people around who don’t want to be there, and who could damage the culture, Josh would rather part ways with no hard feelings, and give them some money to help them find their next job. But, if an employee opts to stay, then Josh has them write a letter to themselves saying why they’re staying. This can serve as a reminder for them as to why they want to be at RTA and why they’re committed to the mission.
Listen to the podcast to hear Josh compare the hiring process to dating and marriage.
Josh took this a step farther a couple of months ago. He realized that while he makes the offer to new hires, he never did the same exercise with his long-time employees. So, he made the offer to the entire company. Now, Josh knew this was risky. If everyone took the money, he’d be out a lot of cash, and he’d be sitting at the office by himself the following Monday. But he was willing to take the chance to ensure he had the right people on his team – who all wanted to be there and help the company achieve its goals.
Listen to the podcast to learn why having 1:1 meetings with your employees will benefit your operation.
While establishing an intentional culture might seem like a nice-to-have at your operation, it is crucial to achieving your goals. If you have unhappy employees who are miserable at work, chances are they are not going to do a good job. And if they are miserable, then they risk making others unhappy, too, leaving you with numerous employees who just don’t want to be there.
Creating an intentional culture can help you ensure you have employees who fit the culture and will work hard to make your fleet operation successful.
We have a lot more to say about creating an intentional culture. To hear the full conversation and get more tips, listen to the complete podcast episode.