Aggressive, empowered employees are driving growth at Sprint Waste Services

Results like this can happen because Swinbank empowers people to make decisions.

“One of the sayings we have around here is, ‘The first mistake is on the house.’ You make the same one again you might get in a little trouble, but we want people in the field making decisions and thinking and seeing opportunities and having the power to act on them without having to make 10 phone calls and fill out the forms,” he says.

“So, at the end of the day, it’s really the people in the field feeling bought in to the team and thinking like they’re the owners of the company and looking out for opportunities that we can all benefit from.”

The minimal hierarchy at Sprint gives every one of the company’s more than 700 employees working across its business lines a chance to have their ideas heard. Whether it comes from a mechanic or management, any idea that could make customers happy has value.

“I was never big on titles because at the end of the day I don’t want to ever hear, ‘That’s not my job,’ so we never really had titles, never really had job descriptions,” Swinbank says. “It’s kind of all hands on deck. If that means a salesman is out there helping to deliver equipment in the middle of the night — having a culture where pretty much anyone can do anything, I think that’s empowering.

“You’re not sitting in a cubicle. When we need help we move people around. You might work for one department and a day later things change.

“There are guys that are 25 making big decisions and getting a lot of responsibility on their plate, but I think that’s rewarding to people because you can make a difference.”

The winners will swim

When Swinbank is interviewing job candidates, he says he likes to tell them working for Sprint is “miserably fun.”

“We work a lot of hours and it’s a stressful job growing like we have,” he says. “But we all get along and we’re all trying to get to the same place. So we’re grumpy sometimes, but a lot of the time we’re running around here high-fiving whenever we pull something off that took a lot of work and blood, sweat and tears.”