By Josh McDonald, Project Manager with Nexus 5 Group
Throughout my time in the construction and management fields, I've learned a few key lessons.
One of the important lessons I've learned regarding culture is that core values must lead your charge daily. The values have to be your filter, your compass, and your decision maker. However, they must also point toward your vision. Vision and values set the boundaries of your culture. If your vision doesn't align with your core values, you will fail. You may turn a profit; you may grow for a short time. But, at some point the rent will be due for the decisions you've made regarding culture.
A team cannot row in multiple directions and win together. Strong teams win as a single unit.
Dreading the Culture
I remember it vividly. I hated my drive to work. Every. Single. Day. It wasn't the physical drive. The drive itself was only about six minutes and two stop lights. It was the culture I was driving toward that I despised.
I had worked for several companies at this point in my career. My experience was that core values weren't a guideline or measurement for decisions. We had no true vision or core values. Those statements simply looked good on paper. We had no compass to direct us and communication was worsening.
As a team, we weren't rowing in the same direction. Our only true measurables were less labor, lower cost of goods, and increased profits. This was a huge problem for me but I didn't feel empowered, nor able, to speak on this. It would fall on deaf ears, be looked at as dissension in the ranks. The lack of change would put me in a position that would cause me to disengage from my team; the ones I should have been leading and giving direction to through our lens of vision and values. Company culture is set from the top down. It began above me and stretched below me. I had given in. I was worn out. At this point, I had become part of the cultural problem.
Fast forward several years, jobs, and personal transitions.
My wife and I had decided to move our family halfway across the country. I enjoyed what I did and who I worked for, but transition was looming. I had decided years before that I would never hate my drive to work again.
What did that mean? I had to work for myself or find a company that I aligned with that held true to their core values. An old friend heard about our move and reached out about a position at the company where he worked.
Nexus 5 Group seemed too good to be true. The first thing I saw on their website was “Serve Well.” That was odd but I loved it. They also listed these core values that aligned with me in a personal way. I was hesitant to believe a company truly operated within these parameters but was assured by my friend that it was true. I was nervous for my in-person interview because, if this was true, I deeply wanted to be a part of a team and culture that aligned with my personal beliefs.
I started about two weeks after we landed in Kansas City and was amazed time and time again that our core values were truly the decision maker in all aspects of what we did. I mean everyone. I remember coming home multiple times in my first few months and telling my wife stories about situations at work that continued to align with who Nexus 5 Group said they were. I was home. I had found a place to be me. I had found a place to align with the war cry, “Serve Well.”
Nexus 5 Group has fought hard to feed and perpetuate our culture. It takes everyone contributing to make it work. Our core values of Integrity, Commitment, Customer Fulfillment, Team Member Fulfillment, and Community Impact seem second nature now.
Not so fast, though. We still fail at times, but these core values give us the road map back to where we belong. This thing doesn't drive itself. Every person on the team must row toward the goal, the vision, without straying from the parameters of our core values. Your team must be willing to play on the same field. Vision and values are like a football field. The values you set become the sidelines that define your operating space. The vision is the endzone.
I am competitive. I like winning but I have found that winning feels better as a team. It feels especially good within boundaries that align with me as an individual. You see, the key to all of this is not the words on a piece of paper or the catchy phrases that sound good on a website. The key is the people. You must surround yourself with people willing to row toward your vision within the parameters of your values.
Your culture will always be contagious... good or bad. You must decide what spreads. I encourage you to stay true to your sidelines and strive for the endzone.