Try for perfection.
You strive for flawless, but you never achieve it, and you never beat yourself up because you’re not (flawless).
It’s no different than if you are a star athlete. You always look for the perfect game. Tiger Woods, as good as he is, he is after himself to be the perfect golfer. He’ll never shoot an 18-hole course with a score of 18, but when you talk to Tiger afterward, he’ll tell you what was right with his game and what was not right. But he does it very analytically.
We try to analyze what we did well, and what we didn’t do well, and how we’re going to improve on what we didn’t do well and how we’re not going to slip from what we did well.
We start out with the attitude that we want our employees to be fairly compensated. In fact, we actively benchmark and target the 65th percentile of the benchmark as the target starting point. We then target our bonus plan to put that employee somewhere between the 75th and 85th percentile in those comparable pay groups.
And then, for two reasons, we have a very good stock program to reward them. One, to keep them, and, two, to keep them focused on [the fact that] the owners are the one making this happen, and when the owner makes money, they should make money.
When that bonus pays out, the owner should be getting something out of that. Those bonuses aren’t just there to make you feel good. Those bonuses are there because they should be making the shareholder more money.
Take the job outside.
We work our tails off here every day to have a very collegial environment. We try to celebrate our victories. We try to get together as a team with outings, charitable events.
We’ll have a picnic in the parking lot or just a longer lunch period than normal. We get together and have an outing to raise money for charity, but it’s a golf outing for the employees at the same time. A lot of the employees have started to set up other clubs, like bike riding clubs, and we try to keep sponsored in those things to let the employee know we care about them.
We have wellness and fitness programs we try to keep going and keep our employees involved in. We are able to laugh at ourselves and have fun with each other and still get the job done.
Have a vision and communicate change.
You have to have a vision of where the company needs to go and a vision of what the company is.
You need to be able to articulate that. And you need to have the trust of the employees and the buy-in of the employees to make that vision a reality. It’s like a circle that, over time, the vision changes and the direction you want the company to go changes because the externalities change.
You have to be able to address that back to the employees in a way that they don’t feel that this is a kind of a flavor of the month club but this is an evolutionary process and we are just moving from point A to point B to C to D to E. You help them to connect the dots to build their own picture of what is happening.
Change, for a lot of people, can be very painful. So, you try to get them comfortable to let them know it is an exciting thing and get them energized about it.
Know your role when creating a corporate culture.
You have to start with yourself and understand you are the coach and not the boss. You’ve got to develop the players on your team.
You have to have culture that doesn’t punish people who go out a limb and take a risk, but you also have to have a culture where those risks are reviewed and everyone agrees that this is a risk we are going to take. It’s a fine balancing act, but we have people here who bring suggestions up and make changes. We try to debrief after things happen. What went right, what went wrong and how can we get better.
There is a lot of opposition out there to that change. As a result of that, you have to make sure everything you do has a calculated risk associated with it. What we do is get all the key people who should be a part of the decision and literally get around a table and beat down what it is we’re doing to see if there is a better way to do it or a less risky way to do it.
Make a decision.
We can get around a table and we’ll have a lot of opinions. My job is to make the call in the end.
The process we use is, once we set the vision, we all buy in to the vision and everyone is on board with it. It’s a team effort. Nine out of 10 times, there is no clear decision. There are facts on both sides of the equation, but we know we have to move forward.
I’ll take it upon myself, if it’s not clear, to make that call and I’ll look at my direct reports and they’ll look at their direct reports to make sure that everyone has bought in. Everything is done in the open. Everyone can speak their piece and speak it without any fear of retaliation.
HOW TO REACH: ITC Holdings Corp., (248) 374-7100 or www.itc-holdings.com