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Today Eagle was named one of Canada's 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures. It is a very prestigious award that requires a rigorous screening to come up with the Top 10, in 4 different categories ... Eagle was a mid market company.
It is hard to pick up any kind of business book or article without seeing a mention of culture and yet culture can seem such an abstract concept to many people. I have been asked about culture many times and I thought it might be a subject worth talking about, from Eagle's perspective ... not that we are experts in the field, but as a company that has tried to develop a very "deliberate" culture.
When you start a company you have the opportunity to determine what kind of company you want it to be ... for many budding entrepreneurs the goal is to create high performance companies that generate big profits. The reality is that you NEED to develop a company that is sustainable and profitable but there are also other qualities you can CHOOSE to have in your company.
Many entrepreneurs like to talk about a "work hard, play hard" culture.
Some like to develop a culture that is all about "work life balance".
For others it is a focus on "the environment".
I would also suggest that a large majority of companies don't even think about culture until later ... their culture evolves, generally as a reflection of the people who are there and they might not even like their culture!
At Eagle we were influenced by Steven Covey's belief in principles as a way to guide a company ... we wanted to be a company with values that mattered. We did not want to have a mission and vision statement stuck up on the wall, that was reviewed every 3 or 5 years. We wanted a set of core principles, a mission and vision that would be meaningful in our decision making. They would drive our culture and we would create a company we could be proud of.
Our vision is the be Canada's #1 Professional Staffing Company. #1 for employees, candidates and clients.
That vision determines our strategies for growth because we need to drive towards that end objective. We don't need to be the biggest, we just want to be the (a) employer (b) business partner and (c) supplier ... of choice for those three groups of people.
In addition to that vision we have a set of core principles that help to keep us pointed in the right direction too.
Team, Innovation, Integrity and Excellence.
We set out to create a company that was team based, striving for excellence, operating with integrity and continually innovating to get better. In order to achieve that goal this had to be a company where people wanted to be, we needed to be good enough that clients wanted us as a supplier and we needed the right model such that independent contractors would want us as a business partner.
To create a sustainable entity we NEEDED to drive towards that vision. The reality is that we will continually move toward that vision but will never reach it, because we know we can always get better!
Once you have a vision and core values to keep you on track, the nuts and bolts of the plan come from strategic planning sessions. They evolve over the years and the only way to create a "deliberate culture" is to have a passion for what you want to create and to have the determination, focus and endurance to keep pushing for that vision.
The award from an external organization like the Waterstone group is vindication that we are on the right path ... and while that is great today, we can't afford to be complacent because in order to be a place people want to work tomorrow we need to keep innovating!
That is the only way I know to create a culture, rather than just let it happen!
Thanks to the Waterstone Group for this very exciting award!
Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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