About five years ago, Rick Foley recognized that Delta Community Credit Union needed to change.
At the time, the organization had very centralized authority, and people felt like they could-n’t do much on their own.
“I just knew that for our future, that couldn’t be the case,” says Foley, the company’s president and CEO.
He knew that if he wanted the organization to grow, he needed people to feel like they mattered and that they weren’t just doing a job. As a result, he’s spent the last five years fostering a better culture, and his 530 employees can tell the difference — and so can customers. He says that the key to creating a great culture in your organization is to look beyond the money.
“Money lasts 10 minutes, and then you’re looking for the next check. So you’ve got to do more than money,” he says.
Smart Business spoke with Foley about how to create a culture where employees feel valued.
Appreciate your people. Your staff is what makes or breaks you. The management team is just a catalyst to get them to do that.
First, you have to be willing to and actually communicate with people on an ongoing basis. It can’t be sporadic.
You have to do it on an ongoing basis, and you let people know you respect what they’re doing and respect them enough to give them information that, directly or indirectly, they can use in how they handle their own business. You have to have a philosophy yourself that you appreciate what your staff does.
You can’t just ride on top of somebody and steamroll them, because it won’t last long. They’re not doing it for themselves, they’re doing it for you and the organization; you have to appreciate that. When people know they’re appreciated, they’ll do a better job for you. Then you need to surround yourself with people who will also convey that attitude to the staff that what they do is appreciated.
Hire good leaders. I have a HIT program — honesty, integrity and trust — and you have to hit on all three cylinders. I look for people that have that and display that, not only in their business dealings but in their personal lives, because if you live it, you don’t have to show it. It just becomes automatic.
Look for people who display that atmosphere, and that atmosphere just spreads out to the whole employee group.
When I’m talking with somebody in a detailed conversation, no matter what somebody says, you can read their face. You can read their eyes and know whether or not they’re sincere or if they’re just using words.
Be consistent. You can’t walk and talk a different path. You have to walk your talk day in and day out. I’ve had a bout with diverticulitis, and I’ve come in to work actually hurting, but when I walk in that front door and see people, I walk in like it’s a great day and have a smile on my face. I talk to everybody I see. I don’t walk by anybody.
I didn’t let them know that I was really sore and really hurting because I just wanted them to know that it’s a great day to be here and a great day to do a good job for the company.
If you come in the front door with a sneer on your face or a grumpy attitude, it won’t take long for half the staff to know about it, and it’ll translate into how they think and act the rest of the day.
Have a good mission statement. We had a big formal mission statement that the board had approved, and it was one of these lengthy things. People wouldn’t remember it or try to abide by it, so we decided a few years ago to make it just five words: Always do the right thing.
The right thing is what’s the right thing in your heart. You know what’s right and what’s wrong. That’s inborn in you as you grow up. It just simplifies everything.
Why have a 20-word mission statement that most people can’t memorize, let alone tell you what it means, when if you do the right thing, that’s what matters?
It goes back to Matthew 7:12 — the Golden Rule — what you should have men do to you, do to them. That’s what it boils down to.
Practically apply your mission. I have my real Bible on my desk, and I have my ‘business bible’ on my desk — “Bravely, Bravely in Business.”
It’s full of a multitude of good information of how you should conduct yourself in business. I’ve underlined certain things ... so I can go through the 184 pages in about 20 minutes so I can refresh myself, and then I’m ready to take on the world. I look at it about probably once a month.
I’ve given a copy of it to each of my executive team members and several other people.
If one of my people does something that is out of the way, I’ll say, ‘You just violated chapter No. 4,’ or, ‘You just violated chapter No. 17,’ and they know exactly what I’m talking about.
I’ll walk down the hallways and ask people what’s the mission statement, and they say, ‘Always do the right thing.’ They live it, they breathe it, they have it on their screensaver on their PCs. It’s all over the place.
If you always do the right thing or even if you make a mistake and you try to make it right by doing the right thing, then that’s what creates that positive atmosphere, not only for your employee base but also for your customers.
HOW TO REACH: Delta Community Credit Union, (404) 677-4773 or www.deltacommunitycu.com