Corporate culture Featured

7:24am EDT October 21, 2004
Have you ever been frustrated by projects not completed on time? Bad hiring decisions? Goals not met? Employee attitude issues?

If so, it may be time to initiate a values program in your workplace. In our early days at TREK Diagnostic Systems, there was a grand vision of all the goals that needed to be accomplished. Yet there were also many missed commitments and projects that fell behind schedule, and management was often the last to find out. As a result, we were frequently frustrated, and employee morale suffered.

Two-and-a-half years ago, we held meetings to discuss what type of culture we wanted and created the following corporate values.

* Reliable, accountable, responsible in fulfilling our commitments

* Support each other with openness, honesty, trust and respect

* Ethical in all our business practices

* Innovative and passionate in our approach to work

* Driven by consistent quality, continuous improvement, and customer service and satisfaction

* Work synergistically as a team to achieve our common objectives

* Personal dedication and commitment to success

Here are the key steps we took to ensure success.

* Immediately recognize those who meet or exceed the values with small incentives. Employees nominated co-workers, employees from other facilities and even their bosses when they felt a colleague did something that exemplified our values.

* Terminate employees who will not commit to all values. We let go several employees who did not desire to uphold the values. This sent a message that we were serious.

* Make values part of job descriptions for hiring and as part of the performance review.

* Ensure that leadership is always true to values. There can be no buy-in if employees see that management does not buy in.

* Positively reward employees for telling the truth, when they know that what they are telling you is not what you want to hear.

* Integrate the values into training, interdepartmental communications and meetings.

We hire new employees based upon our values, strive to communicate openly and honestly with one another, and hold monthly departmental values meetings to keep employees up-to-date on various topics. It's created a corporate culture that walks the talk.

Mike Burke is president and CEO of Trek Diagnostics. Reach him at (440) 808-0000 or mburke@trekds.com.